1st Edition

Radical Challenges for Social Work Education

Edited By Jane Fenton Copyright 2022
    172 Pages
    by Routledge

    172 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book is full of ideas about how social work education can confront the individualising and often blaming form of social work that neoliberalism ushered in four decades ago. Radical social work is an approach to social work that has, at its heart, the departure from solely behavioural, moral or psychological understanding of service users’ problems. Social work had originally been concerned with the moral character of people in trouble (usually poor people), making a clear division between those who were ‘deserving’ of help and those who were ‘undeserving’. The rise of science and the ‘psy’ disciplines then led to psychological explanations for the difficulties people found themselves in.

    Both explanations for social problems – moral and psychological – with their narrow focus on the individual have been enjoying a renaissance in recent times with the neoliberal self-sufficiency narrative (moral) and the more recent focus on trauma (psychological). Radical social work challenges those explanations, concerned as it is with the circumstances a person might find themselves in – poverty, poor housing, poor education, high crime rates, and lack of opportunities of all kinds. This book is a step towards resurrecting radical social work principles, and it urges us to think about how social work education can be reshaped to that end.

    Radical Challenges for Social Work Education is a significant new contribution to social work practice and theory, and will be a great resource for academics, researchers, and advanced students of Politics, Education, Social Work, Sociology, Public Policy, Development Studies, Anthropology, and Human Geography.

    The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of the journal Social Work Education.

    1. Introduction 
    Jane Fenton 
    2. Trapped in discourse? Obstacles to meaningful social work education, research, and practice within the neoliberal university 
    Malcolm Carey 
    3. Theoretical frameworks in social work education: a scoping review 
    Dianne Cox, Helen Cleak, Alex Bhathal and Lisa Brophy 
    4. Resisting neoliberalism in social work education: learning, teaching, and performing human rights and social justice in England and Spain 
    María Inés Martínez Herrero and Helen Charnley 
    5. Promoting youth-directed social change: engaging transformational critical practice 
    Fran Gale and Michel Edenborough 
    6. Educating for critical social work practice in mental health 
    Christine Morley and Kate Stenhouse 
    7. Strengthened by challenges: the path of the social work education in Ethiopia 
    Ashenafi Hagos Baynesagn, Tasse Abye, Emebet Mulugeta and Zena Berhanu 
    8. Using creative modalities to resist discourses of individualization and blame in social work education 
    Patrick O’Keeffe and Elinor Assoulin 
    9. Resident participation as learning and action – a participatory action learning project in social work education 
    Håvard Aaslund and Katrine Mauseth Woll 
    10. Transforming social work’s potential in the field: a radical framework 
    Sarah Ross Bussey, Alexis Jemal and Sherika Caliste 


    Jane Fenton is Reader in Social Work at the University of Dundee, UK. She practised as a criminal justice social worker in Scotland for approximately 11 years before moving to the university in 2006. Her research and scholarship interests are in the newer generations of social work students; the effects of neoliberalism generationally and on practice; free expression and debate in the social work classroom; radical social work; and promoting attention to poverty and inequality by reclaiming liberal values for social work education. She has authored numerous journal articles, chapters, and two books: Values in Social Work and Social Work for Lazy Radicals.