Skip to main content
main-content
Top

About this book

This is the first book to provide social workers with an applicable model for radical practice. Through examining the current state of social work in the UK and looking at the radical approaches that have developed over the years, this book explores some of the opportunities that exist for a radical social work.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. The Context of Social Work

Abstract
The reader looking for a history might want a book written by a historian rather than a social worker. However, the practice-based content that follows in other chapters has to be located in a context created by historical development, and so belongs in these pages. The short historical account (including the place of social work) given in this chapter is one consistent with the radical explanations that underpin this book. It assumes some agreement with the premise that social work service users find themselves the victims of oppression and disadvantage because of their place in society, rather than through individual failing — a theme that will be looked at in more detail in ensuing chapters. This historical overview is followed by some elaboration on the social problems that are generally found in contemporary society in the western democracies, and one of their most extreme negative manifestations — riots and social disorder. There are, of course, alternatives to economies based, like that in the UK, on neoliberal ideas, and these will be touched on very briefly at the end of the chapter.
Colin Turbett

Chapter 2. Radical Theory

Abstract
The first chapter explained the growing presence of inequalities between the rich and poor in society, and their consequences in the UK and western democracies. This chapter will look at the theories that help to inform how social workers who understand and accept such explanations deal with their role in society in terms of a radical practice. That role, as indicated in Chapter 1, is primarily about managing risk within a managerially-driven environment. Anti-oppressive practice (AOP), its antecedents and its offshoots provide a basis for forms that challenge managerially-driven social work and so are discussed here. Ideas surrounding community social work practice, social pedagogy and other theories that also facilitate radical approaches, will be covered in ensuing chapters. Chapter 1 also explained the rise of social work in the welfare state up until the 1980s, and the critiques of the radical social workers of that time. This will be the starting point of this chapter, before we embark on a journey through the progressive theories that have emerged in the years since. These will be described chronologically as they became influential, but each section will also bring them up to date as far as their contribution to a contemporary practice is concerned. The coverage of and emphases within these ideas will reflect a view on their applicability in the real world of social work, especially in state or state-sponsored settings (rather than idealized ones).
Colin Turbett

Chapter 3. Finding Space for Radical Practice

Abstract
This chapter looks at the spaces and opportunities for radical practice that arise from discretion still available to social workers, with a particular focus on statutory settings. This is based on Marxist explanations of the state that were introduced in Chapter 1 and on the work of a non-Marxist but cogent commentator, the US sociologist Lipsky. This chapter, as Chapter 2, will focus on theory. There would be little point in pursuing this argument (which is a basic assumption of the book) unless evidence can be located that supports it as a proposition. Such a focus will also have to address the arguments of the critics who suggest, on the one hand, that Lipsky’s ideas are not relevant to social work, or who regard the managerialist project in social work to be so complete that discretion, however explained or previously demonstrated, has been curtailed. This chapter will therefore look at how spaces might be found within the agendas set by state organizations concerned primarily with risk management and evidence-based practice.
Colin Turbett

Chapter 4. Working with Children and Families

Abstract
This chapter moves the book on to discussion surrounding practice. It will begin by looking at how theories of child development influence approaches in work settings and will then move on to look at practice itself, with a focus around child protection. As population movement from poor to rich countries continues, the economic recession creates tensions in the latter, leading to the popularization of policies limiting immigration and asylum. This impacts particularly on children, and so will be given coverage in this chapter. Finally, social pedagogy will be discussed as a possibility for a creative style that has the needs of service users at its heart. Because this section is practice-focused, there is little attention to either explanation or critique of mainstream approaches but there will be critical comment if this underpins explanation of alternative approaches consistent with radical practice.
Colin Turbett

Chapter 5. Working with Adults

Abstract
This chapter will take a similar method to Chapter 4: with a focus on possibilities for radical approaches, it will not seek to explore mainstream practice unless this informs suggestions for alternatives. The chapter will examine such possibilities across several of the adult groups who seek the services of social workers: older people, those with learning difficulties, those with mental health problems and, finally, carers. Personalization (a term that is used alongside the concept of self-directed support — they will be used interchangeably) is the main driver for these areas of work in the UK and, in particular, for those with disabilities, so this will be looked at first. The comments about practice within this section apply across groups not specifically covered, such as physical disability. Addiction was considered in Chapter 4.
Colin Turbett

Chapter 6. Community Social Work in the ‘Big Society’

Abstract
Throughout most of the twentieth century, coal mining communities in the UK were known for features such as enduring solidarity in the face of adversity, working-class culture and self-help through trade union, cooperative and other organizations. Some were so resistant to the norms of capitalism that they were known as ‘Little Moscows’ because of their collective socialist aspirations and communist political representation (Macintyre 1980). Such traditions were inevitably eroded through the course of the century but were revived in the mid-1980s (Freese 2006) when miners fought back against the destruction of their communities through a bitter year-long strike. The organization shown by the women as well as the men strikers helped unite the communities against an orchestrated onslaught from the media, most mainstream politicians, the police and the courts. The strike was, however, lost, the pits were shut and these same communities have gone into rapid decline.
Colin Turbett

Chapter 7. Radical Social Work with Individuals and Groups

Abstract
So far, this book has placed considerable emphasis on the need to consider social context and to regard individuals with problems as reacting to situations beyond their control, rather than necessarily choosing their lot in life. That said, social work, as referred to in earlier chapters, is primarily about working with individuals: just as some people have resilience to deal with life’s problems, others require support to do so and, under certain circumstances, that becomes the role of social workers. This chapter will look at approaches to working with people individually and in groups that are consistent with radical theory and social justice aims.
Colin Turbett

Chapter 8. Prospects for Radical Practice: Survival in the Front Line

Abstract
Radical practice carries the danger of attracting adverse attention from senior managers; employing organizations will present difficult environments within which to operate effectively. The final chapter of the book will Look at practical challenges faced by frontline workers, and the measures and systems they can use to keep safe so that they can promote a practice that challenges the orthodox agendas prescribed by a framework of managerialism. It will end on a note of optimism with some thoughts for the future.
Colin Turbett
Additional information