In this podcast episode, Ian Hyslop interviews Paul Garrett of NUI (National University of Ireland, Galway) for the RSW Collective. Paul is a much read and respected theorist and writer in relation to the political context of social work and its implications for education and practice futures. Dr Garrett discusses his recent response to the provocative ‘end of social work’ critique offered by Chris Maylea.
While acknowledging the difficulties associated with critical practice he suggests that social work does not sit outside of the tensions facing the liberal capitalist system globally. Referring to Gramsci’s notion of ‘conjunctures’ he points to climate change, uneven social suffering, the geopolitical unrest which is fuelling a refugee and migrant crisis, and the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Add to this the political resurgence of the populist right (and unprecedented potential for state surveillance) and we indeed are living at a challenging cross roads. Garrett argues that we can not choose to live apart from these structuring realities – but that where there is power and reaction there is resistance and solidarity. As workers and social citizens there is, as there always has been, a different world to be won. Dissent is a necessity.
A guest post by David Kenkel
I am sure many of you will have noticed that ‘trauma informed practice’ has become a bit of a new buzzword in the world of social work. By contrast, why is the theory and practice of ‘poverty informed practice’ developed by Krumer-Nevo (2016; 2017) and others backgrounded and de-emphasised in our current context?
It is important to say that there are many earnest, well-intentioned and competent social workers and researchers who write about trauma informed care/practice. Writers such as Levenson (2017) are not part of some massive deliberate conspiracy to promote the neoliberal norm of individualising problems at the expense of a structural and broader societal view of social struggles. Instead, they are doing exactly what Antonio Gramsci described (Gramsci, 1971).
Events in the recent past – perhaps over the last ten years – have left me with questions about the future of social work practice and social work education. Events in the more distant past provide some clues about progressive ways forward, or at least some pointers about approaches which are best avoided. As I have argued in this blog space for some time, the origins of child and family social work are linked to late nineteenth century responses to problems inherent to the capitalist mode of development (Ferguson, 2004).
This is an RSW experiment in providing resources for the educational commons that are freely available to all using creative commons licensing.
In this case we are releasing a podcast interview. Neil Ballantyne (Open Polytechnic of New Zealand) interviews Liz Beddoe (University of Auckland) about the social policy text she edited with Jane Maidment (Maidment & Beddoe, 2016). Neil asks Liz three questions:
- What is social policy?
- What is unique about social policy in Aotearoa?
- Why do social work students need to study social policy?
Post a comment to let us know what you think and tell us if we should create more resources like this one.
This podcast is copyright RSW Collective and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You are free to download it and embed it in your own teaching and learning resources, so long as you attribute it to “RSW Collective (2021, January) https://www.reimaginingsocialwork.nz/2021/01/what-is-social-policy/”
Maidment, J. & Beddoe, L. (Eds.) (2016). Social Policy for social work and human services in Aotearoa New Zealand: Diverse perspectives. University of Canterbury Press.
Podcast music: cello pizz 01 by Morusque (c) copyright 2019 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.
A disturbing year of disruption and trouble is drawing in. Summer sunshine is wrapping us in light once again as we take breath for the road ahead. We have been so lucky of course and those of us who would live in more equal and compassionate ways, are hoping – as we must – that better collective futures will be built and that lessons will be learned. We live in daunting and exciting times which call for solidarity, courage and care – a valuing of the gifts we all bring and a sharing of the burdens we carry. The following is a mix of thoughts from members of our collective – we trust there is something in here for each and all.
Look after one another as we front up to 2021 – we are human beasts in a living world of joy and pain: Laugh when you can, cry when you must. Time moves.
The exemplary work of anti-racist researcher and children’s rights activist Dr Oliver Sutherland and his associates in ACORD (Auckland Committee on Racism and Discrimination) documents a deeply disturbing history of abusive state care in the 1970s and 80s. The following discussion draws on a witness statement, dated October 4th, 2019, which Dr Sutherland presented to the current Royal Commission into Historical Abuse in State Care and the Care of Faith Based Institutions.
The aim of this post is to encourage some reflection on the role of advocacy organisations in bringing hidden injustice and suffering to light. None of this happened very long ago and it happened here in Aotearoa; at the hands, or at least under the noses, of state social workers. There are some lessons in here for us all in my humble opinion.
We are still at the cross-roads with child welfare and the wider movement for social justice but the momentum for radical change is building. I have seen bits and pieces from the Kempe Center Virtual International Conference: A Call to Action to Change Child Welfare. It is challenging and refreshing to see workers from other countries wrestling with the burning need for child protection reform. Child abuse is a social problem that is entwined with wider issues. The current risk-saturated, procedure-driven, surveillance-orientated child protection paradigm delivers unequal outcomes, in Aotearoa and everywhere else where this system is administered. Why wouldn’t it? *And what is to be done?
We have talked about the big picture : small picture stuff on this blog for some time. This is because it is THE question for social work – the key issue that we wrestle with in theory and practice. As suggested, these disturbing times are bringing out the best and worst of the human condition. The mounting social disruption and economic fall-out from the pandemic is severely troubling a world already severely troubled by the cumulative fall-out from global warming. The future as we have understood it in the main-stream Western narrative of progressive development no longer makes sustained sense – unless, perhaps, to the hyper-wealthy.