Conjunctions : Social Work, Psychoanalysis, and Society book cover
1st Edition

Social Work, Psychoanalysis, and Society

ISBN 9781782203308
Published June 26, 2018 by Routledge
318 Pages

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Book Description

Conjunctions engages separately and connectively with therapeutic social work practice, psychoanalytically informed research methods and philosophy, as well as contemporary human service organisational cultures and predicaments, and the societal dynamics affecting social work and psychoanalysis. The chapters are gathered into several thematic sections: Practice, Organisations, Politics Policy and Culture, Research and a final chapter on death, dying and social work.

The writing on each topic uses a blend of psychoanalysis, social theory and philosophy to illuminate and develop a psycho-social account of individual, organisational and social processes and dynamics. The author draws directly upon his own and others lived experience of clinical work, organisational stresses and strains, social processes, and research to generate conceptualised accounts of inner and outer experiential worlds in the hope of mobilising emotional and thinking responses in his readership. Conjunctions is therefore intended to be an intervention in modern professional, therapeutic and social life, as well as a contribution to understanding it.

Table of Contents

Series Editors’ Preface Introduction In praise of tragedy: social work, psychoanalysis, and society I Practice 1 The use of self in social work practice 2 The weight of the world: emotional and relational capacities for doing child protection work II Organizations 3 Legend, myth, and idea: on the fate of a great paper 4 Spotlit: defences against anxiety 5 Talk talk: what is the “Tavistock Model”? 6 Institutional racism: can our organizations change? 7 Trauma, truth, and the court III Politics, policy, and culture 8 A short psycho-social history of British child abuse and protection 9 The shock of the real: psychoanalysis, modernity, survival 10 Containing tensions: psychoanalysis and modern policymaking 11 “Be quiet and listen”: thinking differently about social policy IV Research 12 Hearing the grass grow: emotional and epistemological challenges of practice-near research 13 Front-line services, complexity, research, and policy 14 Entering the underworld: unconscious life and the research process 15 Soft eyes: observation as research V And finally . . . 16 Hearing the bluebird sing: on death, dying, and social work in contemporary human service organizations

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Andrew Cooper, a registered social worker and psychoanalytic psychotherapist, is Professor of Social Work at the Tavistock Centre and the University of East London. He continues to practise as a clinical social worker in the Adolescent Family Therapy service at the Tavistock, leads the Professional Doctorate in Social Work and Social Care programmes there, and works as a consultant to teams and organizations. In addition to his book Borderline Welfare: Fear and Fear of Feeling in Modern Welfare (co-authored with J. Lousada, 2005), he has written widely about therapeutic and relationship-based social work practice and research as well as the policy contexts that support or impede these practices.


"In these searching reflections on the practices and institutions of social work and psychotherapy, Andrew Cooper throws much light on the psychosocial dynamics of contemporary welfare. While drawing deeply on his personal experience, his analysis points to some answers to major questions about values and knowledge in social policy: how may we best respond to the individual sufferings stemming from societal ills and human tragedies, and how may the humane insights of psychoanalysis contribute to that task?"

- Barry Richards, Professor of Political Psychology, Bournemouth University, UK 

"This collection of published and new papers is a testament to Andrew Cooper’s distinctive ability to digest and convey complex, professional and personal experiences and ideas in accessible, engaging and nourishing ways. The breadth of the book’s focus- from individual to societal levels of engagement-and the depth of its theoretical application- exploring psychoanalytic and systemic thinking in contemporary welfare contexts- distinguishes it as a publication that makes a significant contribution to the development of the professional fields of social work, social policy and psychoanalysis."

-Professor Gillian Ruch, Department of Social Work and Social Care, University of Sussex, UK

"It is an important collection of essays (which function as an integrated and coherent whole) and not just for social workers or social work researchers. It contains the hard work of emotional processing, which can act as an example for anyone who wants to approach the difficult task of thinking about some of the core issues involved in what it is to be human in human society."

-Steve Bambrough, Journal of Social Work Practice