Social Work

Our Social Work publishing features books and journals that help to address issues arising from poverty, inequality and social injustice.

The list includes monographs, textbooks and practitioner guides, series, including Research in Social Work co-published with the European Social Work Research Association, and the Critical and Radical Social Work and European Social Work Research journals.

Policy Press is the leading UK book publisher for books on child abuse, child sexual exploitation, child protection and children’s social work.

Social Work

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This chapter analyses American community organiser Saul D. Alinsky's theoretical background and shows that his understanding of 'resentment' was drawn from the ethics of the Scottish philosopher Adam Smith and the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. 'Rubbing raw the resentments' and 'to fan the sores of discontent' are Alinsky's medical metaphors describing his technique to understand frustration and aggression, to cool down emotions and to transform its energy into common action and political negotiation. He tried to empower the people by turning personal discontents and problems into public issues. What are the lessons to be learned from Alinsky for contemporary community development responses to populism? His analysis and his confrontations with McCarthyism and proto-fascist agitator Father McCoughlin provide examples of ways of meeting the challenges we are facing in Germany today, where new prophets of deceit operating through populist politics again carry out the fine art of propaganda, using the new forms of mass communication and the opportunities of social media. Ultimately, the chapter offers a German perspective to the international discussion on community development, populism, and democratic culture.

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This chapter discusses the contextual landscape of populism, considering it through the framework of political culture. A political culture refers to a set of shared views, imaginaries, beliefs, and normative judgements about the political world. The chapter then offers some introductory thoughts on the problematic intersections between community development, democracy, and populism. There are now many criticisms of populism, from a variety of perspectives. But for the purposes of the chapter, the focus is on the ways in which populism undermines civil society. Understanding populist assaults on civil society is important for community development, because civil society provides the habitat in which the various forms of community development operate. To understand how populism threatens civil society, one can begin with the contrast between civil society and populism in regard to pluralism. After analysing convergences and disjunctions, the chapter looks at the ways in which the beliefs and practices of populism challenge community development. It concludes with a brief discussion of community development responses to populism.

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This chapter begins by looking at the potential contributions that popular education can make. It then considers the ways in which popular educators have been engaging with communities to address contemporary challenges, exploring the underlying causes of the growth of far-right populism, as well as developing alternative strategies in response. In practice, working collectively for more inclusive forms of community development and social change, popular educators can provide tools to enable communities to deepen their knowledge and critical understanding of the problems that they face. Most importantly, popular educators can provide the support that communities need in order to engage with the emotions that underpin the growth of far-right populism, along with the growth of racism, xenophobia, misogyny, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, just to mention the most pervasive forms of prejudice, discrimination, and oppression involved. However, while recognising the achievements of popular education, the chapter concludes by highlighting some of the remaining tensions and the continuing dilemmas.

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This chapter examines the relationship between the decline in status of community development, entrenching neoliberal hegemony, and the rise in populism. It does so using a post-structuralist discourse analysis methodology to analyse 74 texts which span national policy debate and the policy and practice within a case-study local authority. The empirical evidence shows that during the administration of the coalition government (2010–15), neoliberal and left-wing populist discourses competed to shape community development debate and practice in England. The chapter calls for community development to unite with left-wing populist strategies to generate and practise counter-hegemonic discourses. However, it also cautions that such discourses can reproduce unhelpful binaries which the community development field must attempt to reconcile.

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This chapter studies community engagement policies in the era of populism in Finland. Finland, although performing excellently in international comparisons of social cohesion, has seen the steepest decrease in the level of trust in the government among all the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries during the past decade. At the same time, right-wing populist rhetoric has strengthened and the populist movement has established its support in the political spectrum. To transform Finnish democracy, participatory programmes have been created in order to reach out and engage different groups to join community development practices. These efforts stem both from the public authorities and the renewed Finnish Local Government Act of 2017, as well as from projects undertaken by civil society organisations (CSOs). Further, there is a long tradition of building civil society in Finland, which has often been based on the unique Finnish liberal adult education system. Yet growing inequality is currently deepening the polarisation in political participation. The chapter then explores the ways of countering the polarisation and populism by supporting the political capabilities of communities and nurturing deliberative discussion.

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Using international perspectives and case studies, this book discusses the relationships between community development and populism in the context of today's widespread crisis of democracy. It investigates the development, meanings and manifestations of contemporary forms of populism and explores the synergies and contradictions between the values and practices of populism and community development. The book examines the ways that the ascendancy of right-wing populist politics is influencing the landscapes within which community development is located, and it offers new insights on how the field can understand and respond to the challenges of populism.

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This chapter addresses the transformation of community development in the United States. The post-World War II history of community development in the United States can be defined by a transition from a power-based model emphasising participatory and redistributive community power building, to a neoliberal model emphasising physical rehabilitation and business development. Neoliberal community development, however much it was consciously planned and engineered by economic and political elites, required a specific political milieu to take root and grow. In particular, it required a voting base that would support candidates promoting far-right, anti-democratic, anti-worker, and baldly racist policies. This political base — rural, white, and male — ends up voting to dismantle the community structures designed to empower them in the hope of some benefit from powerful leaders. This is the exact opposite of the community model that organises people to define and pursue their collective self-interest towards an expanded democracy. How can we understand such behaviour? We can start by thinking about it as a result of the Janus-faced nature of populism that allows it to be either (or both) inclusionary and exclusionary.

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This introductory chapter provides an overview of the issues that the book discusses, as well as the challenges in editing it. The book offers diverse critical perspectives, both international and cross-disciplinary, on the challenge of how to make sense of contemporary forms of populism and also how community development responds to these. It particularly focuses on right-wing populism. How can those committed to community development endeavours respond to populism? When thinking about any community development response to populism, it is important to understand that feelings of alienation and resentment, and concerns about uncertainty and material insecurity, have a rational basis. From this perspective, populism should be viewed as a symptom of underlying factors that have characterised much of the global state of affairs since the last decades of the twentieth century. Taking the viewpoint that populism is a symptom, any response to populism must be cognisant of the underlying conditions in which populism has arisen. The chapter then considers the view that populism is a symptom of the deterioration of the project of democracy.

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Using international perspectives and case studies, this book discusses the relationships between community development and populism in the context of today's widespread crisis of democracy. It investigates the development, meanings and manifestations of contemporary forms of populism and explores the synergies and contradictions between the values and practices of populism and community development. The book examines the ways that the ascendancy of right-wing populist politics is influencing the landscapes within which community development is located, and it offers new insights on how the field can understand and respond to the challenges of populism.

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This chapter explores the potential responses of community development practice to the proliferation of populist practices in Hong Kong. Populism is an under-researched area in the community development field in Hong Kong, despite the increasing prominence of populism globally and the rising popularity of populist practice in Hong Kong since its return to China in 1997. Studies of populism, particularly right-wing populism, have developed the 'globalisation loser' hypothesis. According to this hypothesis, disadvantaged groups, which in the present context include young people, who are frequent users of community development programmes, support right-wing populism. Currently, community workers in Hong Kong are unprepared to respond to this phenomenon. This study is the first stage of a research project examining the implications of populism for community development practice in Hong Kong. To contextualise the study, the chapter outlines the productivist welfare regime of Hong Kong and the resultant characteristics of community development services in Hong Kong.

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