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SWAP Perspectives on Northern Irish Futures – 10 th April 2008. Practitioners as agents of change Mark Baldwin (Dr) Senior Lecturer in Social Work University of Bath. Aims of presentation. Social Work in its political context Definitions of social work

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Swap perspectives on northern irish futures 10 th april 2008 l.jpg
SWAP Perspectives on Northern Irish Futures – 10th April 2008

Practitioners as agents of change

Mark Baldwin (Dr)

Senior Lecturer in Social Work

University of Bath


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Aims of presentation

  • Social Work in its political context

  • Definitions of social work

  • Historical perspective on social work and its relationship to social justice

  • Social work in contemporary organisational settings

  • Note the gap – how it is – how it ought to be

  • What are the choices facing social work?

  • If promoting human rights means resisting social injustice – what are the opportunities?


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International Federation of Social Workers – definition of social work

  • The social work profession promotes social change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. Utilising theories of human behaviour and social systems, social work intervenes at the points where people interact with their environments. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work.


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International Federation of Social Workers – values for social work

  • Since its beginnings over a century ago, social work practice has focused on meeting human needs and developing human potential. Human rights and social justice serve as the motivation and justification for social work action. In solidarity with those who are disadvantaged, the profession strives to alleviate poverty and to liberate vulnerable and oppressed people in order to promote social inclusion.


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Social work as political activity social work

  • Politics as the manipulation of power to control access to resources

  • Social work can be seen as an aspect of state power in this sense

  • Social workers are the gate-keepers to scarce welfare resources

  • Increasingly assessment is of eligibility not needs?

  • What about social work as social inclusion and social justice?


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History of developments social work – change and continuity

  • 1970s

    • Poverty, class, racism and gender inequality

    • Multiculturalism

    • “Old” social work values (Perlman 1957)

    • Radical social work (Bailey and Brake 1975; Corrigan and Leonard 1978)

    • Community development (Gulbenkian 1968; Twelvetrees 1982/1991/2002)


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History of developments social work– change and continuity

  • 1980/90s

    • Thatcherism, individualism, privatisation and managerialism

    • DipSW and the value requirements

    • Anti-racism (Dominelli 1988/97)

    • Feminist social work (Langan and Day 1992)

    • Social model of disability (Oliver and Sapey 1983/1999)


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History of developments – change and continuity social work

  • 1990/2000s

    • Continued and increasing poverty gap

    • Racism and mental health (Fernando 2002; Bhui 2002)

    • Legislation – Human Rights, Race Relations, Disability Discrimination, Age, Sexuality, duty to promote equality (Dalrymple and Burke 2006)

    • Service user involvement (Beresford and Croft 1993; Kemshall and Littlechild 2000)

    • General Social Care Council registration and Codes of Practice

    • New SW degree - but the loss of value requirements


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Contemporary problems for social work practice social work

  • Quotation from Chris Jones (Ferguson Lavalette and Whitmore 2005)

  • Target culture and perverse incentives – e.g. rough sleeper initiative

  • ASBOs and the criminalising of young people

  • Focus on employment and social inclusion – poverty gap widens for the rest

  • 15 million below the official poverty line – this is where most service users are

  • Poverty and health inequalities – differences in life expectancy in Glasgow at postcode level, 25 yrs for men and 15 yrs for women (NHS Health Scotland, Community Health Profiles 2005).


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Contemporary problems for social work practice social work

  • 1960s – Cathy come home – care for children because of homeless parents

  • 2007 – care for asylum seekers’ children because immigration law makes them destitute

  • Social work and direct payments – empowerment or individualisation/fragmentation?

  • Personalisation - empowerment or consumers of welfare?

  • Choice and empowerment – the dissonance experienced by social workers and managers

  • Individual budgets and the RAS tool – resource-led assessment and the end of social work values?


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Social work on the cusp social work

  • Definition - social justice and liberation

  • Requirements of the Codes of Practice for social workers and their employers

  • Social work in organisations increasingly requires social workers and managers to assess eligibility and ration resources

  • Service ‘choice’ is often limited to for-profit day and residential services

  • At its worst social workers are torn between legislation concerning children and immigration legislation

  • Assessing immigration status before needs


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Social Worker choice: social work

In the face of continued inequality and social injustice:

  • Accept the status quo – (SW as resource manager)

  • Work to alleviate problems caused by poverty and discrimination through current organisations. (SW as helper)

  • Resist the status quo both in outcome and organisation (SW as changing the world)

    • 3 part model for social work practice (Payne 2002)


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Is it true for you? social work

  • A rhetorical approach – but is there an element of truth in your experience?

  • Do you have examples of clashes between expected practice and your values?

  • Do you feel comfortable discussing them?


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Opportunities for resistance social work

  • On two counts:

  • One to maintain the critical edge to our practice so we can be more effective operating in the political climate of social work

  • Secondly so that we can build some resistance to the worst excesses of contemporary social welfare organisation


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Opportunities for resistance social work

  • Legislation

  • Codes of Practice

  • Restatement of values

  • Critical reflective practice

  • Anti-oppressive practices

  • Service user involvement

  • Collective action


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Legislation social work

  • ‘Race’ relations, disability, gender, age, sexuality, religion – all discrimination areas now covered by legislation

  • Promoting equality

  • Impact assessment

  • Specifically - promoting the interests of children and adults in the face of challenge to their human rights


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Codes of Practice social work

  • Employers to implement and monitor policies on equal opportunities

  • Ensure employees and service users and carers know of the codes

  • SWs to protect the rights and promote the interests of users and carers

  • Promote independence - protect from harm

  • Uphold trust/confidence in social care services


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Restatement of values social work

  • VR1. Identify and question their own values and prejudices, and their implications for practice.

  • VR2. Respect and value uniqueness and diversity, and recognise and build on strengths.

  • VR3. Promote people’s rights to choice, privacy, confidentiality and protection, while recognising and addressing the complexities of competing rights and demands.

  • VR4. Assist people to increase control of and improve the quality of their lives, while recognising that control of behaviour will be required at times in order to protect children and adults from harm.


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Restatement of values social work

  • VR5. Identify, analyse and take action to counter discrimination, racism, disadvantage, inequality and injustice, using strategies appropriate to role and function.

  • VR6. Practise in a manner that does not stigmatise or disadvantage either individuals, groups or communities.

  • VR7. Work in alliance with service users and carers to ensure that their rights and interests are taken into account when planning and carrying out social work practice.


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Critical reflection social work

  • Critical approaches see knowledge as situated in social, economic and historical contexts (Fook 2002)

  • Knowledge is subjective and reflects power relationships

  • Critical reflection then challenges dominant knowledge and social relations

  • What effect do they have in the practice context?

  • Identifying legitimate and non-legitimate power

  • Important in SW where professionals habitually work with people whose voice is excluded due to – e.g. homophobia, racism, ageism, disability, class.

  • E.G. people with learning difficulties and independent living


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Theory for anti-oppressive practice social work(how we understand things determines how we deal with them)

  • Marxism - the nature of capitalist societies to create and recreate unequal relationships (Ferguson and Lavalette 2004).

  • Empowerment requires a theory of power

  • Anti-racist perspectives: assimilation, multi-culturalism, structuralist approaches, black perspectives

  • Social model of disability, normalisation, ageism

  • Feminist theory; patriarchy - political, social, cultural and economic domination of women in their social relationships with men, who are the ones who are empowered by the same relationships.

  • Anti-sexist or feminist practice – one that builds relationships with women (and men) that acknowledge women’s strengths and promote their voice in controlling their lives. Also one that acknowledges the tendency for social work to intervene in the name of the public good in the private domestic sphere, which is often the domain of women. Turning around the oppressive nature of social work.


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Generic anti-racist practice social work(Mark Baldwin (1996) White Anti-racism…. S.W.Ed V15 No1)

  • Needs-led, service user-focused assessment

  • Critical analysis of services - what assumptions about service users are being made?

  • Who defines need? Professionals? Managers? Individual service users? The community?

  • Communication in assessment require needs to have been understood across cultural divides

  • Understand people's responses to oppression - aggression, apathy - logical not pathological


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Generic anti-racist practice social work

  • Acknowledge your power - legitimate?

  • Enabling criticism of services - complaints and representations

  • Acknowledge strengths and needs

  • Process and skills of decision-making - service user involvement, multi-disciplinary assessment, networking with formal/informal connections


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Generic anti-racist practice social work

  • Note the power of recording

  • Understand the organisation. Policy, procedure, decision-making structures. What part do we play in the organisational ethos?

  • Monitoring and evaluation - key to practice development


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Assessing the needs of (black) service users social work(Bandana Ahmad – 1990)

  • Do you critically examine your views of (black) families?

  • How do you avoid negative stereotypes of (black) families?

  • How do you respond to (black) service users criticisms?

  • How do you involve (black) families’ in assessments?

  • Does your assessment distinguish between (black) families’ problems and structural disadvantage?

  • Is your assessment sensitive to the culture of (black) families?

  • Is your assessment restricted by your understanding of resource shortfalls for (black) families?


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Service user involvement social work

  • Rationale - consumerist or democratic? (Beresford and Croft 1994)

    • Participation, meaning and ownership

  • Types of involvement

    • Routine feedback on assessment etc

    • (Self) advocacy – ‘speaking up’

    • Providing forums for ‘voice’

    • Ensuring a continuous process not just ‘events’


  • Ladder of involvement l.jpg

    Level 5: social workWorking together in a partnership of equals

    Level 4: Collaboration

    Level 3: Consulted and informed

    Level 2: Tokenism

    Level 1: Manipulated

    Ladder of Involvement


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    Individualism and Collectivism social work

    • Individualism

      • Diversity and difference – important for practice

      • Choice, standards and quality assurance

      • Failing to note collective needs/interests

      • Failing to see individuals in their community

      • Fragmentation of ‘voice’ and opposition

  • Collectivism

    • At least seeing collective needs

    • Choice, quality and user involvement

    • Alliances reflecting mutual interests

    • Strength in unity - working together – what about the Union?

    • Speaking truth to power


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    Tony Benn May 1991 BBC Radio 4 social work

    • Who are you?

    • What power do you have?

    • Whom do you exercise it over?

    • By what authority do you hold your power?

    • To whom are you accountable?

    • How do we get rid of you?


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    Are these practices feasible for you? social work

    • Codes in practice

    • Values in your practice

    • Critical reflection

    • Theories for anti-oppressive practice

    • Models for practice

    • Service user involvement

    • Collective resistance

    • Thinking about your power


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    Social Work: a profession worth fighting for? social work

    • Third Annual Conference at Liverpool Hope University (Everton Campus)

    • Friday and Saturday 12th and 13th September 2008

    • Social work and social justice: a manifesto for a new engaged practice

    • http://www.liv.ac.uk/sspsw/Social_Work_Manifesto.html


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    Contact details social work

    • Mark Baldwin

      • 01225 385824

      • [email protected]

      • Department of Social and Policy Sciences

        University of Bath

        Claverton Down

        Bath

        BA2 7AY


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