Policy Press

Publishing with a Purpose

Radical social work in practice

Making a difference


14 May 2009

Page count

200 pages


Social Work in Practice series




240 x 172 mm


Policy Press
£18.99 £15.19You save £3.80 (20%) Add to basket

North and South American customers click here

Radical social work is a tradition often identified exclusively with the movement which developed in the UK in the 1970s, yet as this much-needed new textbook demonstrates, the relevance of radical approaches to contemporary social work practice have never been stronger.

Challenges to a neoliberal approach to social work have been gaining ground academically, and, to a lesser extent, in practice circles. This book provides a fresh understanding of the radical tradition and shows how it can be developed in contemporary social work. Using case studies to illustrate the type of dilemmas faced by workers in their day-to-day practice, the book sets out the ways in which a radical social work approach can inform constructive responses. The book emphasises the need to understand the diverse lives of service users, encouraging readers to share experience and knowledge and to discuss past and present events, to build confidence in tackling injustice at individual and societal levels.

As many social workers are becoming disillusioned and dissatisfied with the profession, this book promotes a practice that is rooted in a commitment to positive change and to social justice that will offer a breath of fresh air to students and practitioners alike.

Dr Iain Ferguson worked for many years as a social worker and community worker in various settings in the west of Scotland. He currently teaches social work at the University of Stirling. He is the author of "Reclaiming Social Work: Challenging Neo-liberalism and Promoting Social Justice" (Sage, 2008) and is a co-founder of the Social Work Action Network.

Rona Woodward qualified as a social worker in 1990 and worked in local authority social work services in London and the east of Scotland for 10 years, with a particular interest in children and young people at risk or in need, including young offenders. Having taken her MSc in criminal justice in 1999, she worked as a criminology researcher at Edinburgh University and taught social work at Glasgow Caledonian University before taking up her current post as lecturer in social work at Stirling in April 2004. She is an active member of the Social Work Action Network.

Social work in a divided society; The radical kernel; Neo-liberalism and social work; State social work: constraints and possibilities; The 'third sector': a radical alternative?; Beyond good intentions: the challenge from service users and carers; Rediscovering collective approaches; Conclusion: social work, a profession worth fighting for.

".. the authors have produced a thoughtful, committed and wholly convincing book, which sets and achieves a high level of critical debate. It is certainly a must-read for all social work students. However, it should be read by everyone who is concerned about the future of social work and, above all, by those searching for more creative ways to tackle injustice and strengthen the emancipatory content of their work." Paul Stepney in British Journal of Social Work

"This book needs to be read by all those with an interest in social work. Informed by a ringing rejection of neo-liberalism and by the insights of practitioners and users, it provides a compelling case for a social work profession and practice committed to social justice. A must-read." Chris Jones, Emeritus Professor of Social Policy and Social Work, University of Liverpool