Critical social work and the politics of transformation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

Published

View graph of relations

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Critical Social Work
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge
Pagesxxxi-xiiv
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print) 9781138578432
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Publication series

NameMajor International Reference Work
PublisherRoutledge

Abstract

It is hard to ignore the huge influence translated to our intellectual and practical life in social work by the progressive writers and activists of the radical Left. This is also the case with the left-inspired writings of critical social work for the social work profession and welfare practice as a whole. Through contemporary political history the intellectual of the Left is a ‘liberationist’ and a ‘transformatist’. She or he seeks social justice for the masses, and eman¬cipation from inequalities, alienation and oppression for human kind. The oppression that governs society binds the people in chains of exploitation and at the same time generates an alienated form of consciousness which cripple’s potential. The moral importance of this stance is obvious. By linking the contemporary call for ‘liberation’ to the old cause of ‘social justice’ the New Left speaks in the moral interests of humanity. And ‘social justice’ is a goal so over¬whelmingly important, and so understandably superior to the ‘established interests’ which stand against it, as to purify all activism carried out in its name. For the politics of the left is a politics with a goal: your place within the alliance of progressive ideas is judged by the lengths you are prepared to go to on behalf of ‘social justice’. As we shall see throughout this book critical social work positions itself clearly and decisively on the Left as an agent for change. This is a good reason for including political transformation in the title of this Introduction. To paraphrase Papadopoulos, Stephenson and Tsianos (2008), social and political transforma¬tion is not about cultivating faith in the change to come, it is about honing our senses so that we can perceive the processes which create change in everyday life. Social transformation is not about reason and belief, it is about issues, perception and matters of concern. It is not about the production of subjects, but about the making of a life. It is not about subjectivity, it is about lived experience – it’s about possible forms-of-life.
The Routledge Handbook of Critical Social Work brings together the world’s leading scholars in the field to provide a cutting-edge overview of classic and current research and future trends in critical social work. At the same time, it provides an authoritative guide to the international scene of progressive thinking, in its theoretical and methodological forms, and the primary debates of today in social work from a critical perspective. The Handbook will be a major ref¬erence work and the first book to comprehensively map the wide-ranging territory of critical social work. It does so by addressing its conceptual developments, its methodological advances, its value base for front-line practice and its influence on the policy field. It offers a definitive