Giles Deleuze: social work from the position of the encounter

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Gilles Deleuze was a continental philosopher (born, Paris 1925, died, Paris 1995) whose radical work has influenced a wide range of disciplines across social science, humanities, material science, technology and applied disciplines such as education, architecture, art and design. Many in social work will have an affinity with the way that his difficult early experience informed his values and activism. His childhood was defined by the traumatic loss of his brother Georges; a fighter for the French resistance during WW2 who died whilst being transported to a German concentration camp. Deleuze’ parents idolised his older brother and left him feeling overlooked. As a result he rejected family life and his parents right wing political views and developed an affinity with the growing strength of the working class. His earliest work poses questions of widely held views on religion, gender and capitalism. As a student he defined his own path, exploring unfashionable scholarship and troubling accepted norms. He rejected elitism based on economic structures, cultural hierarchies and intellectual practices which limit imagination and freedom (Dosse, 2010). This radical position defined the catalogue of work which he would go on to produce alone and with his collaborator Felix Guattari. He published volumes on philosophers Bergson, Nietzsche, Kant and Hume; artists, Proust, Artaud and Bacon each of whom provided the inspiration for his distinctive thought. More than any, he used the work of the 17th century rationalist philosopher Baruch Spinoza whom he described as the ‘Christ of philosophers’. His most widely influential work Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1983, 1987) was co-authored with Felix Guattari. Its two volumes overturn the dominant voices of Marx and Freud offering a different perspective on resistance to inequality; one which is based in creative affirmation. His intention to disrupt habits of thought is conveyed by the unusual terminology he used to express his ideas - the lexicon of ‘war machines’, ‘bodies without organs’, ‘nomads’, ‘assemblages’, rhizomes’ and ‘planes of immanence’.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Critical Pedagogies for Social Work
EditorsChristine Morley, Phillip Ablett, Carolyn Noble
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781351002042
ISBN (Print)9781138545748
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

Publication series

NameRoutledge International Handbooks


  • Giles Deleuze
  • social work
  • philosophers


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