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About this book

Fully revised and updated throughout, this fourth edition of Lena Dominelli’s influential book retains its reputation as the go-to text on anti-racist social work practice. As racism continues to present a problem in contemporary society: the growth of the Far Right, the rise of Islamophobia and the victory of the Brexit camp in the EU referendum, the need to address racist attitudes and behaviour that affect diverse groups of people in the UK remains an urgent one.

A truly classic text, Anti-Racist Social Work has been providing students and practitioners with a comprehensive guide to the debates and practices on racism in contemporary society since 1988.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction: Racism, An Issue of Continuing Concern

Abstract
Racism continues to be an issue in all societies, although its expression varies in each according to cultural norms and historical period. In the UK, the arrest and conviction of two of those responsible for the murder of Stephen Lawrence several decades ago gave hope for change. Today, the growth of the Far Right, the rise of Islamophobia, the victory of the Brexiteers in the 23 June 2016 referendum on whether to remain in the European Union (EU), and the questioning of the rights of EU citizens from Eastern Europe, e.g. people from Poland, to work in the UK have legitimated and exacerbated racist practices, with racist attacks increasing by 47 per cent since this vote (Isaac, 2016). These developments indicate the need for urgent action to address racist behaviours affecting the diverse configurations of peoples residing in this country. I had not anticipated writing a further edition of this book because I had hoped that by this point in the 21st century, tolerance, acceptance and the celebration of diversities would dominate. Sadly, loss of faith in the pluralistic multiculturalism of previous times (Malik, 2015) and the rise in racist attacks since the EU Referendum in the UK have convinced me otherwise.
Lena Dominelli

Chapter 2. Definitions

‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’
Abstract
The hoped-for demise of racism has not occurred. In many places, it is on the rise. This chapter contextualises racism as an issue in and for social work theory and practice, to lay the ground for understanding both its changing and its enduring nature. Understanding the dynamics of racialised oppression is essential to promoting world peace and harmonious relationships between and among people of different cultures, ethnic groups and nationalities. Although the book draws heavily upon the British context, it argues that racism is a social issue found throughout the world and includes examples from a range of countries including other Western countries and North Africa, India and China. The chapter begins with definitions of racism, oppression and discrimination and considers how these intersect as well as diverge with each other through interactional, transactional exchanges among people. It examines the shifts that racism assumes and how these have varied according to place and space, by examining how bio-racism has become cultural racism and tied into identity issues in diverse ways. As the chapter proceeds, it examines statistics that show that the majority of the world’s poor are black.
Lena Dominelli

Chapter 3. Racism as a Socially Constructed Phenomenon

Abstract
Debates about racism and racist practices have become bogged down in binaries about being biologically determined (natural) or socially constructed (cultural) relations. Controversies over their composition have changed over time with biological determinants that focused on body attributes including skin colour, eye colour and hair texture dominating Europe during Western imperialism’s heyday. Today, the emphasis is more on cultural racism that covers elements including food, language, religion, beliefs and traditions. This chapter considers expressions of racism and racist practices in different historical contexts and geographical locations to demonstrate that racism is neither a new phenomenon nor one limited to Western countries. It also explores the differentiated nature of racism to show how power relations are constituted to configure people as subjects and objects and thereby situate them either as subjects within privileged positions at the expense of others or as objects of other people’s ministrations. This makes understanding racism complex and context specific. The concepts of resistance and accommodation to such expressions of power expose the role that agency plays in the enactment of resistance to racist practices (or their affirmation) as people interact with and negotiate their relationships with each other.
Lena Dominelli

Chapter 4. Identity: A Personal Matter or a Political Issue?

Abstract
Identity tends to be seen as a personal matter despite feminist declarations that ‘the personal is political’. In this chapter, identity is considered a phenomenon that is created in and through interactions between individuals and groups, so that identity is formed in the process of creating others and being created by them. Thus, identity is configured as fluid and negotiated rather than fixed and essentialised. Expressions of identity are differentiated according to social divisions and the audience with which one interacts, and vary over time. In this context, diversity in identity formation becomes an important consideration of practice and social workers are encouraged to check with the individual, family, group or community that they are working with precisely how they interpret their own identity rather than presume that they know because they can apply a particular label to them. The role of religion in configuring identities will also be explored as it constitutes a particular dimension of specific identities, although its significance can differ according to country. Additionally, I consider the use of religion as a tool of oppression aimed at turning indigenous communities in Canada, Australia and the USA into ‘European’ ones. And I examine the impact upon social work practice of the rise of fundamentalist views of religions across the globe.
Lena Dominelli

Chapter 5. Anti-Racist Social Work with Children and Families

Abstract
Work with children and families is a hotly contested sphere of practice and is often caught in political struggles wherein politicians seek to be seen as doing something about the social problem of child abuse and neglect without consulting either the service users, especially the young people subjected to this mistreatment, or the practitioners who work with them. These debates are also controversial in the academy where definitive research in these matters has yet to be produced. Work with children and families is a major area of social work practice and raises many important issues for anti-racist social workers. Crucial among these are the dependency of children upon adults; and silencing of children’s voices through what I call ‘adultism’ or adults exercising power over children (Dominelli, 1989). I examine the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to see how social workers can use it to empower children. Additionally, I consider examples of work undertaken with First Nations children in Canada to highlight how children can be better cared for by their communities of origin. ‘Indigenous’ approaches question the view that the care of children is solely the responsibility of their parents, with limited input from social workers when they are in trouble. I also focus on the role of the Maori Family Group Conference (FGC) for its relevance to interventions that include extended families and communities of origin.
Lena Dominelli

Chapter 6. Anti-Racist Social Work with Older People

Abstract
Work with older people is likely to become an increasingly significant area of practice given that the numbers of older people as a proportion of the world’s population are set to rise substantially in the next few decades, and their longer lifespan leads to growing demands for health and social care services that respond to their needs. Older people in general face a particular form of age oppression known as ageism and this intersects with ‘race’, ethnicity, gender, ability and other social divisions to produce complex and differentiated experiences of oppression among older people. This chapter explores these issues through case examples of work undertaken with black and white elders. Black and minority ethnic elders are under-represented in mainstream services, often being catered for by their own ethnic groups in welfare services established for such purposes. Another crucial question focuses on what mainstream service providers can learn from such provisions to make their services more attractive to black and minority ethnic (BME) elders and encourage these elders to access them.
Lena Dominelli

Chapter 7. Anti-Racist Social Work with Offenders

Abstract
Black and minority ethnic groups (BMEs) are over-represented among people processed by the criminal justice system. According to the Institute of Race Relations, BMEs are 28 times more likely to be subjected to Section 60 ‘stop and search’ powers than white people. In 2013–2014, the majority (59 per cent) of those stopped by the London Metropolitan Police under these powers were Black British and Asian British. Most ‘stop and searches’ do not lead to arrests: 86 per cent of the 539,788 that occurred in 2014–2015 did not. Racist attacks against black people have continued to rise, despite hate crimes being defined a specific offence in the UK. Hate crimes are offences committed against the person on the basis of their identity, that is who they are, and what they stand for individually and collectively, and an assault against humanity. Hate crimes against those who have been racialised have risen substantially since the Brexit vote on 23 June 2016 (Isaac, 2016). British black and Asian communities tend to be labelled ‘deviant’ – run by irresponsible parents, drug-runners, criminal individuals and international criminal gangs, and configured as threatening in the popular imagination. These caricatures underpin the worldviews that the English Defence League (EDL) and British National Party (BNP) use to intimidate black and minority ethnic communities, and foment a sense of grievance within disadvantaged majority communities. Donald Trump capitalised on this to secure the presidency of the United States (Reilly, 2016), making race relations between majority and minority communities more difficult than they already were (Reilly, 2016).
Lena Dominelli

Chapter 8. Anti-Racist Social Work with Migrants, Asylum Seekers and Refugees

Abstract
Work with asylum seekers and refugees has become increasingly politicised since the 1990s when public concern over the growth in numbers claiming asylum was strongly articulated in public policies aimed at curbing them. Armed conflicts, especially the one in Syria, have added substantially to these numbers, and Turkey alone is hosting over 3 million Syrian refugees. The European Commission’s contribution to their assistance constitutes one of its largest humanitarian projects ever. Policies subsequently enacted by the British government collapsed distinctions between citizenship, nationality and immigration, emphasising immigration control, partly over fears of large numbers of refugees reaching the UK following the 1991 wars in the Balkans (Vickers, 2012). Discourses of reducing numbers, played out against a backdrop of manufactured scarcity resulting from lack of investment in social resources such as well-paid jobs, housing, health services and educational facilities, have enabled political and media opinion-formers to blame policy failures in meeting the needs of both existing residents and people admitted as (im)migrants. By conflating different statuses regarding immigration and asylum seeking, and arguing for minimal numbers to be admitted to reduce demands on social resources, they legitimated racist political discourses that fanned the flames of xenophobia that bore fruit in the Brexit vote (The Independent, 2016). These circumstances call for social workers to be more active in the political arena and stand up for the rights of disenfranchised people who live precariously in fragile social circumstances. Making links between the precariousness of local residents and those from overseas would enable social workers to build solidarity across different ethnic (majority and minority) communities and contribute to social cohesion.
Lena Dominelli

Chapter 9. Anti-Racist Community Work

Abstract
‘Communities’ has become a buzzword within policy and practice contexts, and has been endorsed by Prime Minister David Cameron’s concept of the ‘Big Society’. Under the ‘Big Society’, communities were expected to make good the deficit in social care provisions left by the welfare state’s withdrawal as provider of services. Filling the gap left by manufactured scarcity or the lack of investment in social resources became particularly important in communities already stressed by the lack of adequate housing, employment opportunities, accessible health services and high quality education. Comparisons will be drawn between the use of self-help - a common feature of black and minority ethnic (BME) communities which have a long history of creating alternative services because mainstream services have failed them - and the opportunities available to BMEs in an age of austerity featuring dwindling state grants and charitable contributions.
Lena Dominelli

Chapter 10. Anti-Racist Social Work Across Borders

Abstract
Social work is increasingly recognised as a profession with a global reach. Social work educators, researchers and practitioners can be found in many countries. A recent evaluation of its breadth and depth has not been undertaken, but the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) estimates that there are 3,000 tertiary-level institutions in 74 countries offering qualifications in the profession; and the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) claims over 1.5 million members in 94 countries. These numbers are growing as various countries are developing their own forms of professional social work. Social work, as helping others, has existed for millennia in every country that human beings inhabit. Professional social work is different from this informal neighbourliness, in that it is formally organised and associated with institutional and organisational structures and legislation. Nonetheless, professional social workers draw on informal helping in providing formal community-based care, often in the form of volunteers. Informal kinds of caring vary according to ethnic grouping, and these may target different groups, especially children, young people and older people.
Lena Dominelli

Chapter 11. Conclusions: Anti-Racist Social Work as Transformational Practice

Abstract
I conclude with suggestions about: how anti-racist social work can empower both black and white people who access services; the skills that social workers need for such work; and the different levels in which anti-racist interventions are necessary. Racial inequality continues to bedevil society. Deeply embedded forms of racism trouble our planet, whether perpetrated by white people or not. The struggle to establish egalitarian social relations among people is a source of optimism, but setbacks, like the failure of the Durban Summit to shift attitudes, make the task seem intractable. I conclude by calling for an egalitarian world that people create by forming racially equal and just societies wherever they live. I identify policies and resources to assist anti-racist work in the profession and broader society and offer guidelines for practice. Anti-racist social work aims to change the behaviour of those who benefit from inequalities and those disadvantaged by them. Anti-racist social work practice is part of an emancipatory approach to working with service users and arose from the radical social work movement of the 1970s. It is committed to a social justice that now includes environmental justice (Dominelli, 2012) and transformative social change.
Lena Dominelli
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