Social work is often presented as a benevolent and politically neutral profession, avoiding discussion about its sometimes troubling political histories.
This book rethinks social work’s legacy and history of both political resistance and complicity with oppressive and punitive practices. Using a comparative approach with international case studies, the book uncovers the role of social workers in politically tense episodes of recent history, including the anti-racist struggle in the US and the impact of colonialism in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
As the de-colonisation of curricula and the Black Lives Matter movement gain momentum, this fascinating book skilfully navigates social work’s collective political past while considering its future.
“This essential book lays a challenge at the feet of the social work profession, providing key reflections on our role in society. It invites us to look backwards, to move forward with our ethics intact.” Rory Truell, Secretary-General of the International Federation of Social Workers
“Highlights the ways that social workers have struggled to support the dignity of people, their rights to live in peace, to work, educate their children, and be healthy and safe, and shows how a coordinated approach within the profession is needed to strengthen its capacity to ensure that human rights and social justice are upheld within vulnerable populations in our times.” Gary Bailey, Simmons University
Vasilios Ioakimidis is Professor of Social Work at the University of Essex and the University of West Attica. He is also an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Johannesburg.
Aaron Wyllie is Lecturer at the Centre for Social Work and Social Justice at the University of Essex.
Part 1: Making Amends With the Past
1. Learning From the Past To Shape the Future: Uncovering Social Work’s Histories of Complicity and Resistance – Vasilios Ioakimidis and Aaron Wyllie
Part 2: Legacies of Colonialism and Racism in Social Work
2. Canadian Social Work and the Sixties Scoop: Reflections on the Past, Lessons for Today – Filipe Duarte and Patrick Selmi
3. Reconciling Systemic Abuse of Children and Young Women With Social Work’s Commitment to a Human Rights, Transformative Practice – Carolyn Noble
4. The Oppressive History of 'Child Welfare' Systems and the Need for Abolition – Alan J. Dettlaff and Victoria Copeland
5. Colonial and Apartheid South Africa: Social Work Complicity and Resistance – Linda Harms-Smith and Yasmin Turton
Part 3: Social Work’s Contested Ideologies
6. Social Services in Nazi Germany and the Role of Social Workers Between Complicity and Rare Resistance – Carola Kuhlmann
7. Social Assistance in Franco’s Fascist Spain (1939–1975): A History of Social Control, Family Segregation and Stolen Babies – María Inés Martínez Herrero
8. Social Work in Times of Political Violence: Dictatorships and Acts of Resistance From the Southern Cone – Gianinna Muñoz-Arce and Melisa Campana-Alabarce
9. Trade Union Mobilisation, Resistance and Political Action of Social Workers in Portugal – Pedro Gabriel Silva and Alcina Martins
10. The Radical Roots of Popular Social Work in Palestine – Michael Lavalette
Part 4: Social Work’s Complicity With Institutionalisation and Detention
11. Institutionalisation and Oppression Within the Mental Health System in England: Social Work Complicity and Resistance – Rich Moth
12. A Refugee Crisis or a Crisis of Anti-Immigrant Politics? Hostile Refugee Reception, the Pandemic and New Solidarities in Cyprus – Nicos Trimikliniotis and Vassilis Tsianos
13. Institutionalisation of Certain Children and Mothers in Ireland: Reflections on the ‘Troubled History’ of Child Welfare Social Work – Caroline McGregor
Part 5: Survivor Perspectives and Contemporary Reflections
14. Facing the Legacy of Social Work: Coming to Terms With Complicity in Systemic Inequality and Social Injustice – Bob Pease
15. “We Want Social Workers To Hear Our Story”: Learning From Parents Whose Children Were Taken Away – Guy Shennan
16. Decolonisation and Critical Social Work Pedagogies – Caroline Bald and Akudo Amadiegwu
17. Adoption Social Work Practice in Ireland: Critical Reflections on Present-Day Injustices – Claire McGettrick