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About this book

As social work is fundamentally being altered by the 'Internationalization' of social problems, this book examines the implications for students and practitioners. Arguing that social professionals working locally need an understanding of global mechanisms and cross-cultural issues, it includes both local level and international examples.

Table of Contents

Introducing International Perspectives on Social Work

1. Introducing International Perspectives on Social Work

Globalization is a topic that has received growing attention in the press and media as well as in the economic, political and social sciences. However, it has only more recently been acknowledged as constituting several processes affecting the welfare sector and, more specifically, the work of social professionals. The focus of social work on the relationship between individuals, families, groups or communities and their environments has emphasized the ‘local’ nature of intervention and the importance of developing services and practices which are appropriate to a given context and culture (Webb, 2003). We do not contest this emphasis but argue that social work across the globe is now operating under different conditions, which produce new social problems — or exacerbate old ones. Social professionals therefore need to review services and practices in the light of international events and perspectives. For some, this entails working in international settings, but for others it means incorporating internationalized perspectives into local practice.
Karen Lyons, Kathleen Manion, Mary Carlsen

Theoretical Frameworks


2. Globalization: Fact or Fiction and Is It Relevant?

The term ‘globalization’ is now familiar to many people. However, there are ongoing debates about its meaning and effects, and even its relevance to some populations and occupational groups. Are the poorest populations of an American ghetto or a Peruvian village or a remote Pacific island really ‘touched’ by its effects (and is it therefore relevant to welfare professionals?) or is globalization only a reality for young share traders on the London Stock Market or expatriate employees of global corporations or even just people with enough time and money to engage in ‘foreign travel’? This chapter aims to clarify some common understandings of the term and to suggest that its effects, although varied across and within different societies, are pervasive in ways that demand the attention of social workers.
Karen Lyons, Kathleen Manion, Mary Carlsen

3. Towards a New Equality: Social Divisions in a Global Context

Midgley (1997b, p. 19) suggests ‘(i)f social work is to survive as a profession, it needs to transcend its narrow concern with remedial practice and promote activities that make a positive contribution to social well-being’. He further suggests that this may be established through a development perspective, which we would endorse. However, here we draw more on sociological perspectives to analyse ‘difference’ and the effort to promote more egalitarian relationships.
Karen Lyons, Kathleen Manion, Mary Carlsen

4. Loss: A Core Concept with Universal Relevance

Loss permeates human experience. It is present in any situation encountered by social professionals working with people to improve social functioning and enhance life situations. Loss can affect individuals, families, groups, communities and nations. Grieving people are found in schools, immigration centres, programmes for the aging, health-care settings, and any other place where social and emotional support could occur. While the presenting concern of a person is often something else, for example, poverty, exploitation or social exclusion, loss can be an underlying issue that must also be addressed. The well-prepared professional will assess for loss in many situations and if professionals are not open to discussion of loss and grief, they may miss an important opportunity for service.
Karen Lyons, Kathleen Manion, Mary Carlsen

Effects of Globalization in Practice: Some Topical Examples


5. Communities in Conflict

Conflict, whether at interpersonal, inter-group or inter-state level, has always been part of the human condition. Societies have evolved ways of managing conflict which have varied according to time and place. Traditional means (still current in some locations) rely on the personal decisions of powerful community leaders (and their supporters) and may include the use of force. Modern societies have developed democratic systems at local and national levels which aim to represent the views of all groups and reach solutions to tensions which threaten to destabilize communities or could result in overt conflict — although these do not always work in practice. Modern societies have also sanctioned interventions by social professionals and through mediation schemes in relation to disputes at interpersonal, neighbourhood and institutional levels; and international conventions and protocols have also been formulated to guide or restrain behaviour in relation to military personnel and civilians caught up in wars.
Karen Lyons, Kathleen Manion, Mary Carlsen

6. Natural and Forced Migration: Causes and Consequences

As previous chapters have already indicated, there are many reasons for migration. Additionally, population mobility is a complex process, where migration patterns are often rooted in the historical connections between particular countries or continents. It is a field of human activity which has increasingly given rise to both political responses and the need for practical interventions by social professionals. Hoogvelt (1997) has identified the movement of people from one political area to another as a clear symptom of the growing interconnectedness and mass deepening of globalization. Facing an increasing disparity of wealth, as well as natural and human-made disasters (including armed conflict), some populations have had to relocate — in search of employment, or respite, or basic protection. On the other hand, a new elite has emerged who are able to take advantage of the mechanisms of globalization (ICT, transport) to loosen their ties to particular geographical locations: they are willingly and globally mobile. Coincidentally, people in both these categories have influenced the global spread of disease, HIV/AIDS in particular (see Chapter 8).
Karen Lyons, Kathleen Manion, Mary Carlsen

7. Child Exploitation: Local and Global Protection

Pictures of children are often utilized to add gravitas to a variety of international development campaigns. Their effectiveness and persistence lends weight to the notion that children and their welfare matter to us, but it also intimates a perspective in which children are dependant and in need of special protection. The exploitation of children, in its various guises, has been a topical issue since the early 1980s. The subject is complex, drawing in broader concerns of economic development, poverty, loss, globalization, empowerment, self-determination, social justice and human rights. However, the lack of a framework to adequately address international aspects of intervention into global child protection matters has meant that there is a dearth in practice examples (Dominelli, 1999). Additionally, because child labour is often a mechanism of survival (whether selling peanuts on the streets of Lagos, swapping sex for shelter in Montreal, working as a servant in Paris or in a shoe factory in Beijing), children’s involvement is often under the radar of social professionals’ notice, particularly in countries where child exploitation has not been emphasized.
Karen Lyons, Kathleen Manion, Mary Carlsen

8. Spreading Disease: Global Pandemics with Local Impact and Responses

Infectious diseases have been present throughout human history. Epidemics have been documented since recording of such data began, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has tracked numerous diseases since its inception. With few exceptions (for instance, tuberculosis, influenza, plague), infectious diseases have been primarily local phenomena. In the past 20 years, an unusually high number of previously unknown infectious agents, roughly 30, have been identified — for example HIV, rotavirus, and Ebola. Others previously thought by the world community to be defeated have re-emerged, for example plague, cholera, yellow fever and diphtheria. Many of these are more virulent and some are becoming resistant to drug treatments (Lague and Saywell, 2003, p. 19).
Karen Lyons, Kathleen Manion, Mary Carlsen

9. New Directions for Social Work in Conditions of Globalization

We have argued in this book that it is increasingly important for social professionals — whether involved in international or local activity (within an apparently national context) — to equip themselves with knowledge of global events and processes and cross-cultural issues. The world is now a complex and interconnected place, with implications for the genesis and manifestation of both ‘old’ and new social problems. As Gane (2004) has noted, ‘… globalization marks not the death of the social, but rather the birth of a new era of rights and citizenship, or what might be termed the hyper-social’ (p. 8). Caragata and Sanchez (2004, p. 244) have argued,
Accompanying our new global economic interdependence is a related political and social interdependence. Problems such as AIDS, refugee settlement, immigration and most environmental issues require an international perspective and response. While individual communities and even nation-states can and should formulate their own local response to these and other global issues, these alone will be insufficient.
Karen Lyons, Kathleen Manion, Mary Carlsen
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