Essay on The Embedded Negative Aspects Of Social Work

Essay on The Embedded Negative Aspects Of Social Work

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The embedded negative aspects of social work (SW) history adds a confounding layer to a practitioner’s ability to affect a working relationship with clients. This is multiplied when considering international social work (ISW), as historically it has been practiced through the ‘power over’ model afforded by a colonialist perspective. It is important to underscore the foundational aspects of social work (SW) in order to understand its impact when applied to an international practice. The embedded sense of superiority carried by westernized social workers that viewed their work through a charitable lens, has arguably created more stigmatization of the served population than long-term positive change. This is not to berate the historically naïve efforts of ISWer’s positive impact, rather a critique of the motivations, and long term results of their practice impact. By examining the historical and present application of global SW interventions, this paper will endeavor to show how national and international social work, when juxtaposed, reveal an analogous nature. The methodology used will contain an AOP driven critical social constructionist paradigm to show how a macro envisioned single practice is evident in both practices.
The History of Social work
As noted by Karen Healy (2005), ‘first wave’ critical social work began in the 1890’s by SW practitioners like Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Adams, of Chicago’s Hull (Settlement) House. In the first three decades Adams developed an ideological SW perspective that included an intrinsic relationship between pacifism and being a social work practitioner. A concept that puts practitioners in the position of working to end social inequalities that in turn would eradicate the need for their o...


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...iptors an emerging sense of complication enters the ISW discourse. With it, a recognition that ISW practice when framed through an anti-oppressive practice (AOP) perspective can be problematic. For instance, it could be asserted that working with an Aboriginal service user is an ISW practice because of the client’s delineation from the dominant hegemonic discourse. She or he would be speaking from a significantly different cultural context (way of knowing) and therefore be interpreted as having a foreign mind-set to the white, westernized concept of Canada’s norms. This logic can also be applied to all non-whites and whites from nations that significantly diverge from colonialist discourses. Through the previous conversation about SW history, we can see how this is so. In fact, when viewed through an AOP lens it becomes evident that all social work is International.

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