Critical theory and critical social work

Authored by: Edward Granter

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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In this chapter I show how critical theory is relevant for critical social work and for those working in, and studying, welfare organizations more widely. To do this I will introduce (or re-introduce) readers to critical theory as founded by the group of Marxist sociologists known as the Frankfurt School. I will then give an outline of critical theory as method and as a way of looking at society. Following this I will look at critical theory’s influence on the scholarly field, and practice, of critical social work, and as an additional tool for understanding working life in welfare organizations under neoliberal regimes. By neoliberal regimes I mean countries where state welfare provision is deliberately and systematically under-resourced and then privatized in order to create surplus income for individuals controlling the organizations involved. Readers from Australia, New Zealand, the USA and the UK will recognize this characterization and others will be aware of the growing momentum of this process in their own countries.

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