Theorizing social work in the domains of culture, politics and society

Authored by: Stan Houston

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 axiomatic that social work is deeply immersed in society. It aspires to advocate for the most vulnerable members of the social order and thereby challenges oppression. Societal institutions, by way of contrast, seek to define, enable and limit the nature of social work through legislative and social policy instruments. Put another way, social work is ‘caught in the middle’ between the politico-economic state and civil society, seeking to interpret personal problems within a context of public issues. Into this challenging zone can be added a burgeoning identity politics that makes culture not simply the domain of benign, symbolic meaning but, tellingly, the sphere of contested, intra- and intergroup relations.

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