Critical  Social  Work  Seminar 2 2010[1]
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Critical Social Work Seminar 2 2010[1]

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  • Hi there! I really appreciated this slide show as a brief overview of critical social work, especially the brief biographies of important critical and anti-racist thinkers and activists. I am applying to MSW programs, and would really like one with a critical focus. Do you know of any?
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  • Born in French Martinique, poet, anti-colonialist, founder of “negritude” movement Discourse on colonialism (first published 1955) key text in anti-colonial literature describes the material and spiritual havoc caused by colonialism Works with three propositions: Negritude “resistance to the politics of assimilation” and “a struggle against alienation” (interview with Cesaire, 1967); celebration of black culture and forms of expression Surrealism “ a permanent readiness for the marvelous” Extension/revision of Marxism complete and total overthrow of racist, colonialist system that would open the way to imagine a whole new world (Kelly, 1999) Describes process of “Thingification” the deliberate destruction of the past of the colonised and turning “the other” into a barbarian
  • Paulo Freire born 1921 Recife in Brazil; theorist liberatory education; socialist Some of his important ideas include: Pedagogy of the oppressed (also his well known book) radical transformation and humanisation no education is neutral; either liberating or domesticating Critical conscientisation ongoing process of moving toward critical consciousness heart of liberatory education awareness of oppression, being "object" in world where only "subjects" have power identifying contradictions in experience through dialogue Praxis reflection upon and action on the world to transform it Transformation negates ethics of neoliberalism and economic globalization – critical, liberating, hopeful theory - utopia of a more just and human society (Nita Freire, 2007)
  • Born in Martinique, psychiatrist, revolutionary; liberation of Algeria from France Two of his most well known books are Black skins white masks (1952); Wretched of the earth (1961) – these are key texts in post-colonial theory and criticism – he brings psychology and politics together Some key ideas about the psychology of colonisation include: Racist objectification - race is the essential determining quality of identity Colonising the mind – in the colonial position, cultural values are not one’s own; life occurs in a hostile environment; the message is consistently “de-value me and my culture” Cultural dissonance - dissonance between ego and culture, self and society Internalisation - external socio-historical reality assimilated into subjective reality intrapsychic violence
  • Born Kingwilliamstown; Anti-apartheid activist; founder blackconsciousness movement; political leader, writer Key set of writings found in book: “I write what I like” Founder of “Black consciousness” – which attempts to replace negative self-image with affirming positive identity and solidarity – to operate as a group to rid themselves of shackles bind to perpetual servitude Liberation politics - Psychological and physical liberation “ the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed” – Importance of destruction of subjective black oppression Conscientisation - strategy of resistance to develop heightened awareness of oppressive conditions profound cultural awareness of damage caused by colonial project
  • So, critical discourse in our context of postcolonialsm and neoliberalism, requires courage – I want to end with a statement by Edward Said, a founding contributor to postcolonial thought: “ Nothing in my view is more reprehensible than those habits of mind in the intellectual that induce avoidance, that characteristic turning away from a difficult of principled position which you know to be the right one, but which you decide not to take.” (Said, 1994:74)

Critical  Social  Work  Seminar 2 2010[1] Critical Social Work Seminar 2 2010[1] Presentation Transcript

  • CRITICAL SOCIAL WORK SOCW4002 Direct Methods of Practice 2010 Linda Smith
  • CRITICAL SOCIAL WORK SEMINAR 2: CONTENTS CRITICAL THEORY CRITICAL SOCIAL WORK OPPRESSION AND POLITICS OF IDENTITY POST-COLONIAL THOUGHT
    • WHAT IS CRITICAL THEORY? Early critical theory is broadly Marxist. It is the account of the social forces of domination that takes its theoretical activity to be practically connected to the object of its study… Critical theory is not merely descriptive, it is a way to instigate social change by providing knowledge of the forces of social inequality that can, in turn, inform political action aimed at emancipation (or at least diminishing domination and inequality). (Rush, 2004:10) Rush, F. (Ed). (2004). The cambridge companion to critical theory. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
    View slide
    • THE POLITICS OF HELPING
    • “ The two men… were psychologists who put to practice their professions in ways that made history and affected the lives of millions… Verwoerd was a staunch white supremist, a Nazi sympathizer, an avowed anti-Semite, and a leading architect of apartheid… Fanon, in contrast, was a relentless champion of social justice, who, when barely 17… volunteered for the forces attempting the liberation of France from Nazi occupation”
    • Bulhan (1985, p.3)
    • Hook, D. (Ed). (2004). Introduction to critical psychology . Cape Town: UCT Press
    View slide
    • Helping is political in itself – as an oppressive instrument or as a means of progressive politics
    • Power relations include relations of control, authority and subordination
    • Helping (psychology, social work) is always powerful, always leads to relationships of power
    • Knowledge, expertise, practice always includes some form of power relationship
    • Critical theory: “Truth as unmasking”
    • 1 970/80’s - critical theory ‘driving force’ behind new forms of
    • marxism, feminism and black consciousness
    • influenced by society and context - far more than we realise
    • structure of thinking processes are a result of social forces
    • transformation through praxis - critically reflecting on society,
    • uncover hidden assumptions that maintain existing power
    • relationships
    • discover what enslaves people
    • begin to alter social reality by how we participate in it
    • liberated from oppression once conscious of how oppression
    • operates (critical consciousness)
    • critical theory and practice developed by Freire (1921-94)
    • (Higgs and Smith, 2002)
  • FOUR SUPPOSITIONS OF THE CRITICAL SOCIAL SCIENCE PARADIGM: Macro-social structures shape social relations at every level of life The world is divided between ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ and the interests of these groups are opposed and irreconcilable The oppressed are complicit in their oppression Its emphasis is on empowering oppressed people to act, collectively, to achieve social change
    • CONSTRUCTION OF SOCIAL WORK THEORY
    • (Payne, 2005:3 –23)
    •  
    •   SW practice is a process of deciding action
    • from variety of alternative positions
    • SW’s need to have ideas that try to explain why
    • and how practice decisions are made
    • disagreement about what social work is, and
    • different groups argue for and against different
    • views
  • Reflexive-therapeutic view (therapeutic helping) Individualist-reformist Socialist-collectivist (maintenance or social order) (emancipatory/transformational)
    • Critical Social Work (Ferguson, 2008:102-110)
    • Critical social work includes: Marxist social work; radical social work; structural social work; feminist social work; anti-racist social work; and anti-oppressive and anti-discriminatory social work (Healy, 2005:173)
    • Critical social work is: “concerned with the analysis and transformation of power relations at every level of social work practice (Healy, 2002:172)
    • However, some argue that critical SW should include postmodern and post-structural aspects (Fook, 2002), while Ferguson argues that it need not and raises objections to postmodernism
    • OPPRESSION
    • Earlier radical SW of the 70’s failed to engage in issues of oppression
    • In 1980’s greater attention to other forms of oppression and a ‘retreat from class’
    • Feminism grew to be dominant
    • Early 90’s – break from pathologising perspectives
    • However, politics of identity led to fragmentation, promoted by neo-liberal policies
    • Although oppression intersects and there is no hierarchy of oppressions, oppression should not be ‘cut loose from its roots in capitalism’ (Ferguson, 2008:107)
    • Issues of identity have led to a devaluing of issues of poverty and inequality – need for a return to ‘politics of redistribution’
    • Although this approach emphasised commonality and formed a
    • basis for collective action, the politics of identity led to
    • fragmentation, which mirrored fragmentation promoted by neo-
    • liberal policies (see Mullaly, 1997, who analysed oppression in
    • terms of identity):
      • “ women are oppressed (by men) as women. Men are not
      • Oppressed as men. Non-whites are oppressed as non-whites.
      • Whites are not oppressed as whites. Gay and lesbian persons
      • are oppressed (by heterosexuals) as gay and lesbian persons.
      • Heterosexuals are not oppressed as heterosexuals” and then:
      • “ Given that oppression is perpetrated by dominant groups and
      • is systematic and continuous … why does it occur? The simple
      • answer is that oppression occurs because it benefits the
      • dominant group “ (Mullaly, 1997, in Ferguson, 2008:106)
    • Ferguson offers three critiques of the politics of identity as an analysis of oppression:
    • … This approach neglects to describe the role of the state in oppression, but sees it as individuals or groups of individuals who oppress others
    • … Collective action is ruled out because most people are implicated in some form of oppression, and only a narrow form of pressure group politics would remain
    • … There is no basis for distinguishing between different forms of oppression – there is no ‘hierarchy of oppressions’
    • Although oppression intersects and there is no hierarchy of oppressions, oppression should not be ‘cut loose from its roots in capitalism’ (Ferguson, 2008:107) – this trivialises genuine human suffering – by ‘lumping’ it together with all in society who call themselves oppressed – such as middle class consumers whose complaints may be valid
    • There was a retreat from class analysis and class politics
    • Emphasis on identity has led to devaluing of issues of poverty and inequality - need for a return to ‘politics of redistribution’
    • Many adherents of critical SW tried to overcome this fragmentation and tried to make the links between oppression and material inequality
    • CULTURAL HEGEMONY IN SOCIAL WORK
    • (Askeland and Payne, 2006)
    • Globalisation and homogenisation
    • Colonialsim and post-colonialism
    • Economic oppression
    • Culture
    • Language
    • Social Work education hegemony
    • SW education’s response
    • POST AND ANTICOLONIAL THOUGHT
    • the Post-colonial misunderstood as chronological period after end of colonial rule – rather, form of analysis exposing violence of colonialism; gulf between European moral philosophy and political practices (Mbembe, 2008)
    • critical perspective – relationship of domination/resistance that manifest when one culture ‘owns’ or controls another culture, even after the era of formalised colonisation has ended (Van Zyl, 1998)
    • racialisation of colonised subject guided by “I alone possess value. But I can only be of value, as myself, if others, as themselves, are without value.” (Mbembe, 2008)
    • racism, denigration of indigenous ways, paternalism - Colonialism imposed enormous social changes on traditional societies, no responsibility for social costs of social disruption (Patel, 2005:67).
    • praxis of anticolonialism arises from postcolonial thinking – identify, resist all forms of domination and oppression (Dei, 2006:5)
    • we must understand the reproduction of dominance and subjugation of disempowered (Dei, 2006)
    • NEOLIBERALISM
    • “ Re-named as ‘Neoliberalism’, the historic crime in the concentration of privileges, wealth and impunities, democratizes misery and hopelessness.” (Subcommandante Marcos, 1996)
    • belief that free, unregulated market answer to global economic problems
    • indefensible system of inequality and injustice, widely criticized (Sewpaul, 2006; Sewpaul and Holscher, 2004; Fairclough, 2000; Ferguson, 2008)
    • ten principles (Washington consensus, 1989) of market fundamentalism; fiscal policy discipline; cutbacks in state expenditure; trade liberalization; privatization of state enterprises; security of private property rights - IMF, world bank and US treasury (Sewpaul, 2006; Terreblanche, 2002)
    • subtle continuation of historical colonialism and strong, hidden racist and ethnocentric undercurrent, demonstrated by global resource consumption and wealth distribution (Pollack and Chadha, 2004:4)
    • SW practices at risk of supporting oppressive nature of this system if not critical and radical in its resistance
    • Aime Cesaire
    • 1913 - 2008
  • Aime Cesaire
        • Born in French Martinique, poet, anti-
        • colonialist, founder of “negritude” movement
        • Discourse on colonialism (first published 1955)
        • key text in anti-colonial literature
        • describes the material and spiritual havoc caused by colonialism
        • Works with three propositions:
        • Negritude “resistance to the politics of assimilation” and “a struggle against alienation” (interview with Cesaire, 1967);
        • celebration of black culture and forms of expression
        • Surrealism “ a permanent readiness for the marvelous”
        • Extension/revision of Marxism complete and total overthrow of racist, colonialist system that would open the way to imagine a whole new world (Kelly, 1999)
        • Describes process of “Thingification”
        • the deliberate destruction of the past of the colonised and turning “the other” into a barbarian
    • Paulo Freire
    • 1921 - 1997
    • Paulo Freire born 1921 Recife in Brazil;
    • theorist liberatory education; socialist
    • Pedagogy of the oppressed
    • radical transformation and humanisation
    • no education is neutral; either liberating or domesticating
    • Critical conscientisation
    • ongoing process of moving toward critical consciousness
    • heart of liberatory education
    • awareness of oppression, being "object" in world where only "subjects" have power
    • identifying contradictions in experience through dialogue
    • Praxis
      • reflection upon and action on the world to transform it
    • Transformation
    • negates ethics of neoliberalism and economic globalization – critical, liberating, hopeful theory - utopia of a more just and human society (Nita Freire, 2007)
    Paulo Freire
    • Franz Fanon
    • 1925-1961
  • Franz Fanon
        • Born Martinique, psychiatrist,
        • revolutionary; liberation of Algeria from
        • France
        • Black skins white masks (1952); Wretched of
        • the earth (1961)
        • key text in post-colonial theory and criticism
        • brings psychology and politics together
        • Racist objectification
        • race essential determining quality
        • Colonising the mind
        • cultural values not one’s own; hostile; consistently “de-value me and my culture”
        • Cultural dissonance
        • dissonance between ego and culture, self and society
        • Internalisation
        • external socio-historical reality assimilated into subjective reality
        • intrapsychic violence
    • Steve Biko
    • 1946-1977
  • Steve Biko
        • Born Kingwilliamstown; Anti-apartheid
        • activist; founder blackconsciousness
        • movement; political leader
        • Black consciousness
        • replace negative self-image with affirming positive identity
        • solidarity – to operate as a group to rid themselves of shackles
        • bind to perpetual servitude
        • Liberation politics
        • Psychological and physical liberation
          • “ the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed”
          • Importance of destruction of subjective black oppression
        • Conscientisation
        • strategy of resistance to develop heightened awareness of oppressive conditions
        • profound cultural awareness of damage caused by colonial project
  • “ Nothing in my view is more reprehensible than those habits of mind in the intellectual that induce avoidance, that characteristic turning away from a difficult of principled position which you know to be the right one, but which you decide not to take.” (Said, 1994:74)