Anti-oppressive practice

Authored by: Jane Dalrymple , Beverley Burke

The Routledge Handbook of Social Work Theory

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9780415793438
eBook ISBN: 9781315211053
Adobe ISBN:


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It is important to note that ‘historically, some of the most progressive developments in social work have not been generated ‘internally’ from within the profession, but have come about through engagement with social movements’ (Moran & Lavalette, 2016, p. 109). The collective experiences of marginalized, disadvantaged and oppressed individuals, groups and communities continually inform academic debates and scholarship, as well as shaping practice responses which do not further compound situations of inequality and social injustice. Anti-oppressive practice, described as ‘a key methodological and theoretical paradigm in social work’ (Danso, 2015, p. 573) and ‘a dominant theory of critical social work practice’ (Healy, 2014, p. 192), developed as professionals found methods of working with users of welfare services which took into account the oppression and inequality people experienced in their daily lives (Davis & Garrett, 2004, p. 14). Anti-oppressive practice, drawing on critical social science theories and informed by humanistic and social justice values, is acknowledged as ‘one of the main forms of social justice oriented social work theory and practice today’ (Baines, 2006, p. 4).

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