No issue, no politics: towards a New Left in social work education

Mel Gray, Stephen A. Webb

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


This chapter articulates a new politics for social work education in light of its public statements on confronting injustice and inequality (Global Agenda, International Federation of Social Workers, International Association of Schools of Social Work and International Council on Social Welfare (IASSW, ICSW, IFSW 2012). With social justice as a guiding value, we exhort social workers to take an ethical and political stance and define how commitments can be mobilised. Students come to social work motivated by change: they want to make a difference but the crucial question is ‘How do we make this happen?’ To answer this we need to understand the centrality that issues play in mobilising a politics of controversy for social work and gain salience with publics in political activation. We argue that the displacement of politics to a global forum, in which a cross-national alliance of social workers can hold an international institution to account, requires a concrete set of controversies over which mobilisation can be configured. Our intention is to conceive of public involvement in politics – in this instance by social work students and their educators – as being occasioned by, and providing a way to settle, controversies that existing institutions are unable to resolve. This chapter is in part a call for social work educators to renew their engagement with radical thought through issues that impact on students and practitioners alike.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Social Work Education: Crossing Borders, Blurring Boundaries
EditorsCarol Noble, Helle Straus, Brian Littlechild
Place of PublicationSydney
PublisherSydney University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9781743324042
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • New Left
  • social work education
  • education


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