Within this essay the areas in which discrimination and oppression occur will be highlighted and then evaluated to show how ‘good’ anti oppressive/ discriminative practice within social work can ‘aid’ and empower service users who are in groups that experience oppression and discrimination to overcome their problems. Gil (1994) states that “the conditions that cause people to seek help from social services are usually direct or indirect consequences of social, economic, and political institutions, and... the profession of social work is ethically committed to promote social justice. Insights into oppression and social justice, and into ways of overcoming them, are therefore essential aspects of the foundations of social work knowledge”.
In addition to this, this essay will discuss the importance for social workers to have a clear understanding that “discrimination is the process (or a set of processes) that leads to oppression” and that in order “To challenge oppression, it is therefore necessary to challenge discrimination.” (Thompson 2001) This essay will draw attention to the importance of this understanding as within social work practice there is a danger that social workers could reinforce the oppression and discrimination against their service user, “ There is no middle ground: intervention either adds to oppression (or at least condones it) or goes some small way towards easing or breaking such oppression.” (Thompson 1992)
Thompson’s PCS model is extremely useful in aiding social workers to accurately examine and understand the impact that oppression, discrimination and inequality has on the “social circumstances of clients” and on the “interactions between clients and the welfare state.” (Thompson, 2001) The first level of Thompson’s PCS model ‘P’ relates to the importance that the personal “thoughts, feelings, attitudes and actions” (Thompson, 2001) of the service user are and it also represents how the service user’s interests and ideas should be at the centre of good anti-discriminatory/oppressive social work practice. This level also demonstrates how personal prejudices (such as stereotyping) can influence the way in which social workers relate to their service user and can prevent social workers from practicing in an anti-discriminatory/oppressive manner. It therefore is vital that social workers understand the importance of eliminating oppression and discrimination from their lives as well as their practice as “There would seem to be little point in developing anti-discriminatory practice within a work context if we contribute to the continuation of discrimination and oppression through our actions and attitudes in our private lives.” (Thompson, Men and Anti-Sexism, 1995).
Social workers should remain aware that our personal “thoughts, feelings, attitudes and actions are to a certain extent unique and individualised, but we must also recognise the powerful role of culture in forming our opinions and guiding our actions” (Thompson, 2001) through tools such as the “media and political propaganda” (Thompson, 2001) which can cause social workers to form personal prejudices and prevent them from remaining neutral, as their opinions will be influenced and this will inevitably impact on how they relate to certain service users when practising. Whitehouse (1986) supports this view, as he suggests that “if the social worker has stereotypical expectations and attitudes then he or she will tend to select information to confirm them.” He further suggests that this will have implications on the assessment as, if a social worker does make the “persons under assessment perceive themselves to be the object of a categorical or stereotypical assessment, they will tend to withdraw from interaction, to give as little information and collaboration as possible.” (Thompson, 2001)
The second level of...