Skip to main content
main-content
Top

About this book

At a time of growing social, economic and environmental challenge, this book offers a fresh and engaging perspective on the connections between social work and community development and on how social workers can use a community development approach to practice in critical, creative and sustainable ways.

Table of Contents

chapter 1. Social work and community development: An introduction

Abstract
The connections between social work and community work are longstanding and multifarious. Some of these connections are well known and documented, such as shared historical origins, a common value base and grounding in diverse bodies of theoretical and practice knowledge. Other links, while less evident, are equally significant. Both disciplines have professionalised within the last fifty years and now have a distinct occupational status in many countries. Furthermore, both have constantly been shaped and reshaped by societal events. This is particularly evident in the early years of the twenty-first century as social work and community work grapple with a complex and challenging policy environment that demands new and innovative responses to a range of multifaceted social, economic and environmental problems.
Catherine Forde, Deborah Lynch

chapter 2. Ideology, policy and community

Abstract
In this chapter we explore the main macro influences on social work and the social professions in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries and consider some of the challenges that these influences pose. The chapter begins with an overview of the impact of the neo-liberal ideology on economic policy internationally and considers how economic crisis, welfare reform, modernisation and managerialism have affected the provision of social and public services, particularly social work. The chapter proceeds to examine how many governments have coupled neo-liberalism with a communitarian agenda, producing policies such as the Third Way and Big Society, and looks at the effect of this on communities and community development activity in a number of countries. It then considers some of the challenges and possibilities of prevailing policy frameworks for social work and community development practice.
Catherine Forde, Deborah Lynch

chapter 3. Beyond dominant discourses: Challenges and opportunities

Abstract
So far we have explored some of the connections between social work and community development. Not only do they share a value and knowledge base, they have been considerably shaped by a changing societal and policy environment which has presented challenges and opportunities for both social work and community development. This chapter explores the major discourses that influence practice in contemporary settings and considers the implications for both social workers and community workers. We draw on examples where practitioners challenge dominant discourses and explore how critical approaches enable us to move ‘beyond dominant discourses’ and create opportunities for engaged, critical and creative practice within current practice settings as well as in new arenas of practice.
Catherine Forde, Deborah Lynch

chapter 4. Directions in social work theory

Abstract
There is a rich and diverse theoretical tradition in social work that informs community development practices. In this chapter, we make connections between social work values, theory, practices and a critical form of community development. We seek to make these relationships transparent. Radical or structural social work practice theories and the various tributaries of critical social work connect with collectivist approaches and community development ideas. Guided and informed by our value base and commitment to social justice, we venture into the theoretical domain and interweave purposes, practices, ideas and theories to actively engage with groups and communities. Our exploration expands the conceptual spaces and possibilities for social work in a community context. We offer examples where social workers have incorporated community development ideas in their work within different practice settings. Here, we draw on the social work literature and our own practice as well as our research with social workers who shared their practice frameworks with us.
Catherine Forde, Deborah Lynch

chapter 5. Making connections in principle and practice

Abstract
Chapter 1 pointed out the value-based nature of social work and community development and the similarities between the core values and principles that inform the two disciplines. In this chapter we resume this discussion and specifically explore the relationship between social work and community development in practice. We begin with an overview of the key junctures in community development practice in the twentieth century and consider some of the intersections between community development and social work. This analysis includes examples of participative and empowering community development from the Global South. The chapter proceeds to critically analyse the community development process, its broad scope and critical or transformational potential. It considers the connections between community development and social work practice, and assesses the opportunities and challenges that community development approaches offer social workers to engage in critical practice.
Catherine Forde, Deborah Lynch

chapter 6. Creative activism in social work practice

Abstract
In this chapter we focus on the ways in which social workers can effect social change through critical or ‘creative’ activism within and outside the workplace. We show that activism is connected to the activist or radical tradition addressed in Chapter 4. While we are interested in capturing the broad landscape of political practices, we are also interested in social change practices that are more nuanced and strategically woven into the fabric of day-to-day practices. Here, we open up spaces to explore both the overt and covert forms of resistance running above, along and below the changing landscapes of policy and practices in contemporary environments.
Catherine Forde, Deborah Lynch

chapter 7. Scaffolding critical practice in the community development context

Abstract
Chapter 6 illuminated the practices of practitioners working within challenging circumstances to achieve social change. Different forms of activism emerged which ranged from episodic to more sustained activities. In this chapter we pose the question, ‘How can we support each other as practitioners and stay centred, creative, critical and effective in our work with communities?’ Here, we include broader organisational practices, processes and approaches that have the potential to scaffold practices in a critical community development context. We draw on our own ideas as well as a number of interesting and innovative collective approaches to reflection and action involving groups and communities that have been articulated in the social work and community development literature.
Catherine Forde, Deborah Lynch

Conclusion: New opportunities for social work engagement with critical community development approaches

Abstract
In the conclusion we address the challenges and opportunities for social work practitioners, educators and academics, students and researchers in engaging with community development ideas and approaches.
Catherine Forde, Deborah Lynch
Additional information