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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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Politics and social work

Politics and social work

(p.139) Eight Politics and social work
Social work, politics and society

Kenneth McLaughlin

Policy Press

This chapter revisits the relationship between politics and social work in the United Kingdom. It untangles the complexities of the politicisation of social work and its consequences, arguing that in many respects the debate misses a more fundamental problem. Focusing on the extent to which social work is political obscures the fact that, in contemporary society, politics has become social work. Intervening in the minutiae of individuals' lives has long been the concern of social work in its various guises. Increasingly, though, the state, via health and social care initiatives, is encroaching ever further into this terrain. It is in this sense that rather than a re-politicisation of social work, a depoliticisation is suggested. For those concerned with social problems today and wishing to create the conditions for social change, we do need to foster a climate where commonalities can be forged and relationships developed. There is no need to politicise social work. That was done many years ago. Today the task is to get politics out of social work and therapy out of politics.

Keywords:   United Kingdom, social work, politics, depoliticisation, social problems, social change

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