Securitising social work

Counter terrorism, extremism, and radicalisation

Authored by: Jo Finch , David McKendrick

The Routledge Handbook of Critical Social Work

Print publication date:  January  2019
Online publication date:  January  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138578432
eBook ISBN: 9781351264402
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter critically explores an emerging area of social work practice in the UK, namely its increasing role in counter-terrorism activities. The chapter explores the policy context within which social work in the UK, as well as many other professions, has now become legally mandated to identify and prevent violent extremism and terrorism, as well as report and/or work with, families or individuals where there are concerns about radicalisation and extremism. We argue that whilst the social work professions’ incursion into counter terrorism work is presented in a benign and straightforward manner; i.e. as an extension of “normal” safeguarding activities, rather, this is evidence of an increasingly securitised profession. We will subsequently explore the concept of securitisation that is traditionally used in international relations, to evidence our concerns about increasingly securitised social work activities, by drawing on the work of Buzan, Waever and De Wilde (1998).

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