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Social Work And Capitalism: Social Work Training, Labor And Clients

IJED, Vol. 10 No. 2, (2017)

To provide for a more radical understanding of the societal environment in which social work takes place, it has been argued that social workers must question power relations daily. But the same duty has not been foisted upon, or required of, society, which largely benefits from the work that social workers so regularly perform. Inequality, specifically, is a major component of the power relations that must be questioned socially; the magnitude of such an interrogation would give form to a social system of knowledge production that informs attitudes and beliefs about whose voice it is that matters, and whose perspective it is that “counts most,” thus opening avenues for greater democracy and social justice. Just as it is part of longstanding social structures that give shape to public and private institutions, which directly and indirectly bear on individual lives in the capitalist context, defining social problems ought to be an outgrowth of knowledge production that is at once reflexive, responsive and critical. Somewhat uniquely, these criteria can withstand the capitalist structures and institutions that now inhabit a constellation of cultures, classes, languages and geographies but do not, or have not yet, received consummate investigation with regards to social work training, labor or clients. The task set out here moreover requires that social work training and the economic causes of social inequality be brought into conversation so as to bring into sharper relief, ontologically speaking, just how threatening social work is to the manifold contemporary capitalist forces that seek to impoverish any work which aligns itself with cultivating social justice and democracy.

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