Dissenting Social Work – a conversation with Paul Michael Garrett

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.