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Social work, politics and societyFrom radicalism to orthodoxy$
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Kenneth McLaughlin

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9781847420459

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847420459.001.0001

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Politicising social work

Politicising social work

(p.23) Two Politicising social work
Social work, politics and society

Kenneth McLaughlin

Policy Press

This chapter examines the politicising of social work in the United Kingdom from the 1970s onwards, from the class-based critique of the radical social work movement to the influence of feminist and anti-racist writers, to the contribution to the debates and practices from disability activists as well as gay and lesbian campaigners. It highlights the influence of such perspectives on social work training and development and discusses the emergence of radical social work, standpoint theory, anti-racism and anti-oppression. It also explores how the overt politicisation of social work provoked much debate, hostility, policy and personnel changes, and led, according to some, to a dilution of social work's commitment to an egalitarian society, in effect leading to a depoliticisation of social work. Finally, the chapter considers the growth of social services departments and the politicisation of many within social work, along with the emergence and growth of trade unions in both size and importance.

Keywords:   United Kingdom, social work, politicisation, social services departments, trade unions, radical social work, standpoint theory, anti-racism, anti-oppression

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