Social work has an intimate relationship with ‘the family’, since many aspects of practice are concerned with family life and family problems. Child protection, adoption, support for older people, interventions with young people in trouble, residential, kinship and substitute care, helping people cope with dementia or providing support to disabled people, for example, draw upon ideas and expectations about family life. This means that social workers are not only involved in negotiations with families about difficult issues, but that their interventions have powerful effects, since they rely upon and involve claims about family. So, what does this imply for social work? Isn’t ‘the family’ obvious? Why should social workers want to ‘deconstruct’ it, and what does this mean?
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