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About this book

This text offers a comprehensive overview of the key aspects of globalisation, their impact on social work and the resulting challenges in practice. The authors draw on post-colonialism to consider the global issues facing social work, such as mass migration, and the ways in which social workers can respond to such difficulties.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
Over the past two decades we have witnessed what could be termed a ‘global’ turn in social work. This trend is evidenced by a growing number of published texts and edited collections on how global processes interact with social work practice (e.g. Cox and Pawar, 2006; Dominelli, 2007a; Healy, 2001; Hokenstad and Midgley, 1997; Ife, 2001; Lyons, Manion and Carlsen, 2006). In some ways, this trend is not surprising. Globalization is an influential discourse in a variety of associated disciplines, including sociology, political science, economics and cultural studies and social work has lent heavily on these disciplines in constructing its own knowledge base. Global frames of reference have similarly infiltrated social policy and promoted new understandings of governance, citizenship and the role of the state, which are also key concerns in social work. However, the question remains as to why, at this particular point in history, the ‘global’ resonates with a growing number of writers in social work. In particular, discourses on globalization have struck a chord with many of these writers, although they have not always been endorsed in an uncritical manner.
Gai Harrison, Rose Melville

Chapter 2. Rethinking Social Work in a Global, Postcolonial World

Abstract
In this chapter, we explore two of the prominent themes or reference points in this book — globalization and postcolonialism — and present an argument as to why we believe there is a need to position social work in these particular contexts. Although our principal aim is to locate social work in a global context, we believe that linking globalization with a postcolonial perspective can enhance existing understandings of global processes. Rather than offering solutions or prescriptions for action, we invite readers to consider some of the issues and challenges posed by globalization and postcolonialism for social work. We also foreground how these concepts may assist in not only rethinking the range of social issues and problems that social workers encounter but also the domain of social work itself. In particular, we examine the debate concerning whether social work is a local concern — an activity that is particular to the nation state — or whether it has a rightful place on the global stage in the guise of international social work.
Gai Harrison, Rose Melville

Chapter 3. The Global Economy, Poverty and Social Work

Abstract
Ameliorating the impact of poverty has long been the focus of day-to-day social work intervention with people at the local level. In recent years, poverty has received increasing attention at the global level. Global inequality and poverty are increasing more than at any other time in our history. Given continual environmental degradation and its links to health and education inequalities, we suggest that global poverty is likely to become a more pressing issue. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP, 2007, p. 25) estimates that over 1 billion people live ‘at the margins of survival’. The global food crisis referred to earlier in Chapter 1 threatens to push millions more people back into extreme poverty as the cost of food staples such as rice and wheat rise. Ironically, while global poverty is on the rise, global wealth is also increasing. However, this wealth is held by a small number of elites and not benefiting those most in need.
Gai Harrison, Rose Melville

Chapter 4. Immigration and People Movement in a Global World

Abstract
In this chapter, we foreground some more recent trends in people movement on a global level and how this impacts our understanding of practice with immigrant and refugee populations. Migration is in fact a centuries-old practice and in that sense does not constitute a new phenomenon. However, what is noteworthy in the current context is the increased numbers of people moving around the world and the complex nature of these patterns of migration. In the first part of this chapter we briefly examine migration and globalization from both a historical and contemporary vantage point. Following on from this discussion we chart some more recent trends in people movement, before moving on to explore the vexed issue of border control. Next, we examine how traditional ideas about the links between citizenship and the nation state are being contested in a global, post-colonial era by those who seek to promote more inclusive forms of global citizenship. In this context, the increased movement of people across borders challenges state-centric notions of citizenship. Finally, we explore the implications of these migratory processes for social work practice, with particular reference to those countries where cross-border movement is strictly regulated. In this section we also consider the role of social work in addressing migration-related concerns.
Gai Harrison, Rose Melville

Chapter 5. Rethinking Women’s Lives and Concerns at the Global-Local Interface

Abstract
In this chapter, we explore the ways in which globalization is believed to have impacted women and gender relations with reference to a number of contemporary social issues. These issues include but are not limited to the increase in women’s migration, including labour migration, the global care chain and the feminization of poverty. Along with the general wealth of literature that has emerged on globalization, a number of writers — including those drawing from feminist perspectives — have put forward the thesis that globalization has radically altered the lives of women and women’s work and transformed gender relations. In this sense, these writers have proposed that it is appropriate to talk about gendered globalization or alternatively posit a strong link between globalization and processes of feminization (Gunewardena and Kingsolver, 2007; Hawkesworth, 2006). The evolution of an international women’s movement has similarly been linked with globalization, and over the past few decades we have witnessed a number of global campaigns on women’s issues that have been spearheaded by official world bodies such as the United Nations — UN (Berkovitch, 2004). Hence, globalization has not just led to new understandings of women’s lives and concerns but has also enhanced opportunities for forging transnational networks and alliances to promote gender equality and women’s rights.
Gai Harrison, Rose Melville

Chapter 6. Mental Health — an Emerging Global Health Issue

Abstract
Globalization has not only profoundly influenced the way we think about issues such as economics, poverty and migration but has also provided us with a new lens to look at contemporary health concerns. In this chapter we examine mental health in the context of globalization. Despite the fact that globalization and related processes such as migration, relocation and workforce restructuring have significant implications for people’s mental health, this aspect of health has been a neglected topic within broader discussions and debates on global health. Mental health receives far less attention in both the international and national public health arenas than physical health, and this is especially the case in developing countries. Most of the world’s health resources are directed at combating the high rates of morbidity and mortality arising from communicable and infectious diseases (Saxena et al., 2007). Yet rates of neuropsychiatric disorders are similarly high and mental health is inextricably linked with a range of other issues such as poverty and disability.
Gai Harrison, Rose Melville

Chapter 7. Information and Communication Technologies and Social Work in a Global World

Abstract
In this chapter, we foreground some recent trends in the proliferation of information and communication technologies (ICTs) that have greatly enhanced the global flow of information, ideas and imagery. These technologies have radically compressed time and space. They have allowed us not only to learn more about what is happening in the world at large but also to link up with a range of individuals, groups and organizations around the globe. Hence, the global human network occupies a much smaller space and it is argued that we now live in ‘a connected age’. Essentially, these developments have made instantaneous communication possible between all parts of the globe. Giddens (2002b) calls this the communications revolution, a term which is suggestive of its power to transform people’s lives in radical ways and change the course of history. These new forms of technology — characterized by high-speed data transfer and multimedia capabilities — such as the Internet, wireless laptops and mobile phones have similarly had diverse impacts on the social life and work environment of social workers.
Gai Harrison, Rose Melville

Chapter 8. The Environment, Sustainable Development and Social Work

Abstract
Social work has long endorsed a holistic approach to practice that emphasizes people’s interactions and interdependent relationships with their environments. Traditionally, the environment has been conceptualized in a rather narrow sense in social work, reflecting a preoccupation with a person’s social circle and community rather than the actual physical environment. More recently, however, social workers have been urged to turn their attention to the state of the physical environment and to embrace the concept of ‘sustainable development’ (Hoff, 1997). This is particularly important in an age where environmental decline is affecting people’s quality of life and promoting disease, poverty, stress, pollution and toxic exposure from chemicals. Global warming, in particular, has been implicated in this environmental decline, which according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is affecting every continent on earth (Rosenzweig et al., 2008). In other words, this is a truly global problem.
Gai Harrison, Rose Melville

Chapter 9. The Value of a Human Rights Perspective in Social Work

Abstract
In this chapter, we examine the place of human rights in contemporary social work. Globalization and the movement for global citizenship have provided a new impetus for examining the role and utility of human rights in social work. The IFSW, along with many national social work bodies, has incorporated human rights principles into its professional statements and ethical codes. Social work’s mandate, in this regard, is to assist people to maximize their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. However, while human rights ‘talk’ pervades many social work texts — including this one — it is equally a contested domain. Hence, one of our main purposes in this chapter is to explore the value of a human rights perspective in social work.
Gai Harrison, Rose Melville

Chapter 10. Conclusion — Ending on an Uncertain Note

Abstract
One of the overarching themes in this book is the idea that happenings in the broader global arena along with history shape our experience of locality and that this is a dynamic process. This in turn has implications for social work practice at the local level. However, in Chapter 1, we stated that we were reluctant to make too many concrete prescriptions or predictions for social work because of the rapidly changing and dynamic global environment in which social work practice occurs. Indeed, over the course of writing this book, we have observed that the global credit crisis we referred to in Chapter 1 has morphed into a global economic meltdown that has sent many countries into recession, resulted in massive job losses and compounded existing food shortages. In 2009, the United Nation’s Development Programme (UNDP, 2009) proclaimed that this ‘global economic crisis’ represents a ‘human development crisis’ that threatens to compound existing poverty and set back the Millennium Development Goals. Moreover, neither of us predicted that by the time we finished this book we would possibly be entering a new political era marked by the election of the first black president in US history. In this changeable environment, predictions and prescriptions for social work can very quickly become outdated and irrelevant.
Gai Harrison, Rose Melville
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