Critical Social Work Practice

Topics: Sociology, Critical theory, Frankfurt School Pages: 2 (667 words) Published: March 29, 2011
Many individuals will enter the profession of social work because they are simply interested in ‘helping people’. This pretext however is not as straightforward as it sounds. Some may be motivated by a mission of working against child problems such as child abuse hence choosing the direct path of social work which involves strategies such as counselling, case management or the dispensing of emergency assistance, whilst others may still hold ideals of ‘changing the world’ thus choosing a more indirect path which means working to change social policies or communities. In saying this, the following paper will describe the main features of a critical approach to social work as well as the main features of indirect social work practice.

From the beginning social work has endured a critical orientation. It has also encompassed a struggle with the tension presented within the focus on the individual and its concern regarding the socio-economic and political forces embedded in society. Within the analysis of critical social work practice, some have questioned wether or not there is a need to articulate the ‘critical’ concept of it, as it is deemed that social work is already ‘critical’ in the sense that it is committed to social as well as individual transformation.

Alston and Mckinnon (2001) have argued that professional social work is concerned with human rights, social justice and support for marginalised people. Material, social, political, economic and cultural are contexts which shape social work as a profession. This is because there is an emphasis placed on working in context. In saying this, one can identify the importance of understanding the main features of this context in broader terms and how they identify with critical practice.

Critical theory is known as a school of Western Marxism known as ‘the Frankfurt School’ and is a term that embraces numerous theoretical positions as it encompasses the writings of many writers such as Herbert Marcuse,...
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