The ‘war on terror’ signalled a new type of warfare—one that accorded with the features of what Surkov argues is non-linear war ( Pomerantsev, 2014). Traditional war that takes place in a particular geographical location, with an identifiable enemy, is no more. Instead, warfare is a more fluid phenomenon. The paper argues that Surkov's concept can be usefully applied to current developments in social work practice in the UK. We trace the origins of key anti-terrorist policy developments in the UK (PREVENT and CHANNEL) from the war on terror and argue that such policies have serious implications for social work. We argue that there is an increasing securitisation approach in addressing modern social problems. We describe these as reflecting conflationary rhetorical logic, notably the linking of Troubled Families programmes with ‘terror’. The paper concludes that social workers need to first recognise tactics at play in the state of non-linear war, second become critically aware of conflationary rhetorical turns in political discourse, third actively resist securitised discourses and lastly reject discriminatory notions of so-called dangerous people and communities. In other words, we should actively re-engage with and promote social work values and social justice.
- Non-linear war
- social work
- troubled families
McKendrick, D., & Finch, J. (2017). ‘Under heavy manners?’: social work, radicalisation, troubled families and non-linear war. British Journal of Social Work, 47(2), 308-324. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcv141