Pressure drop: securitising and de-securitising safeguarding

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This article explores how securitization theory is mobilised in contemporary social work discourse, policy and practice. We draw on recent child protection research to support our claim that a new practice issue, described previously as securitised safeguarding, has emerged. We demonstrate its emergence using securitization theory as a conceptual mode of analysis to describe how a securitised safeguarding response depicts particular families as an existential threat, which in turn, prompts a response characterised by forms of muscular liberalism. We argue that this emerging practice issue requires critical consideration and suggest it will have a significant impact on social work; one that is unlikely to be beneficial for the profession and more importantly, families being worked with. By describing a process of de-securitisation, we offer an alternative and more nuanced approach, that perceives families holistically, and mobilises a welfare safeguarding model. This more closely resembles traditional social work values of emancipation, liberation and empowerment within social work practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-72
Number of pages12
JournalAotearoa New Zealand Social Work
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2020


  • social work policy
  • securitisation
  • safeguarding


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