Introduction

Authored by: Mel Gray

The Handbook of Social Work and Social Development in Africa

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781472468512
eBook ISBN: 9781315557359
Adobe ISBN: 9781317029380

10.4324/9781315557359.101

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Abstract

There have been ongoing claims that Western models and approaches are not relevant to social work in Africa, with little clear articulation of exactly why this is so. Calls for indigenisation point to adaptive approaches to make Western social work fit African practice contexts. Most often, indigenisation arguments hinge on cultural differences and do not go far enough in developing a political critique of structural inequalities inherited from colonial administrations that have proved immensely difficult to dislodge. Following 50 years of independence, African social work is still caught between the Scylla of colonial welfare and the Charybdis of Western social work. Thus, a constant theme across the chapters in this book is the resilience of the traditional and extended family system that, despite decades of welfare and development, remains the backbone of African society. Further, rather than romanticise culture, as many in the indigenisation discourse tend to do, these authors are critical of cultural myths and stereotypes, as well as traditional practices that oppress and marginalise vulnerable groups in society and lead to the abuse and exploitation of children (girls especially), women, people living with mental illness and HIV and AIDS, and the elderly. The book is divided into three parts:

Part 1 sets the scene for what is to come.

Part 2 examines established areas of social work practice.

Part 3 examines emerging areas of social work practice.

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