102395 Critical Social Work Practice Essay-Australia.

Select an area of social work practice, such as child protection, community development, refugees and migrants, ageing, mental health, corrections, disability, or an area of direct interest to your area of practice. Review the CRITICAL literature in that field, outlining the limitations of conventional
social work practice and suggesting possible alternative and progressive approaches.
102395 Critical Social Work Practice Essay-Australia.

102395 Critical Social Work Practice Essay-Australia.

Marking Criteria:
You will be assessed on:
The extent to which you have reviewed the CRITICAL literature in the field. (50%)Your understanding of alternative progressive forms of practice. (40%)Appropriate presentation and structure of paper. (10%)


Student Name:
Critical Social Work: Assignment 1
Review the CRITICAL literature in that field, outlining critiques of conventional social work practice,and suggesting possible alternative approaches incorporating a critical perspective.

International Social Work International social work has increasingly become a popular area of social work practice, particularly via the realm of international aid funding and programs (Healy & Thomas 2007) and as a growth area of social work education (Wehbi 2009). In recent years, international social work has been promoted as a means of creating social change through normative neoliberal discourses of self-help, social entrepreneurialism and the marketization of local economies for international global production chains (Spolander, Engelbrecht & Sansfacon 2015).

102395 Critical Social Work Practice Essay-Australia.

102395 Critical Social Work Practice Essay-Australia.

This dominant discourse is actively promoted through global institutions such as the World Bank (World Bank 2019) and the World Trade Organisation (2018) and their neoliberal macro-economic policies that situate international aid and social development within global production chains. The global promotion of social work practice within this context situates the role of social workers within neoliberal discourses of global human resource development, that is, as service workers of the global political economy who actively promote local level skill development and education for marketised ends (Vanclay & Esteves 2011). This dominant model of international social work has henceforth become central to the neoliberalisation of social justice discourses that pivot around ideas of creating productive citizens that contribute to local and global economies through their individual participation within the labour market (Newell 2005). As Newell (2005) critically identifies, this repositioning of neoliberal forms of social development are aimed at aligning neoliberal agendas of corporate social responsibility and the role of multinational corporations working in partnership with community workers to promote social, economic and environmental responsibility. Thus, rather than focusing on human rights, economic justice and social cohesion, social work and community development have become resources for the global extraction of diverse resources – species (human and non-human), objects and things – the privatisation of goods, services and profits (Brown and Swanson 2003). In this essay, I review the global literature in relation to international social work and international social work practice. The essay will review a number of definitions of critical orientation in relation to international social work practice. The essay will then move to examine the broader literature in relation to the area, identifying core themes of significance and concern, in relation to issues of human rights and social justice.

Confronting Definitions:
Critical Situated Practices Midgely (2001) argues in his paper on critical
debates in the social work profession, there are no clear definitions of international social work, that is, in how it is both defined and how it should be practiced. Midgely also points out that, given that the definition of international social work remains contested, there should be no surprise that there are tensions in how international scholars and practitioners consider what form of practice should the role of international social work practice take. Midgely strongly suggests, that one’s philosophical orientation, will therefore, frame one’s practice within the field, that is, as an international practice should one be an activist for issues of human rights, engage in remedial and harm reduction work, or should one pursue a development foci. Importantly, Midgely recognises that there is both continuum and tension that sits within these categories as international social work may in fact combine all three aspects simultaneously in struggles for social justice within the field.

Significantly, as outlined here in this essay’s introduction, Midgely strongly suggests, that one core concern of social work practice should be in relation to the global capitalist political economy and its normalisation through discourses of globalisation as a vital force for localised social development.
Without this critical understanding of global relations of power and its dispossessing force within the global South, Midgely, argues that social work practice will thus not address social inequalities and in fact, maintain relations of power that subjugate the dispossessed, the poor and marginalised.

Thus, Midgely articulates the significance of the necessity of combining one’s critical foci in everyday forms of social work practice with a rigorous consciousness of the underlying global relations of social, cultural, political and economic injustice, that frame international social work practice within the field. Finally, Midgely identifies that understanding these critical and contested meanings of international social work is necessary to undertake social work practice within the field that counters the possibilities of, and dominant tendencies towards, social workers engaging in everyday forms of social control and reinforcing existing relations of power. Palattiyil and colleagues (2018) arguments in relation to the possibility of a definition of international social work sit in tandem with Midgely (2001) as outlined above. Yet, given its more recent publication, it engages with a more rigorous body of research in the area, particularly in regards to a core set of global principles that should guide the work of international social work practitioners (IFSW 2012).

Through drawing upon the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development (IFSW 2012), Palattiyil and colleagues suggest that the general global tendency of international social worker as a discipline and practice
have long been engaged in critical human rights issues such as migration, poverty alleviation, gender equality and climate change. And, that this overarching global compact, ensures the professionals grounding in principles and practices of human rights, dignity and respect. Using this framework, Palattiyil et al argue that one of the key differences from past endeavors within the discipline, is now the need to focus on global sustainability, and this nascent demand, requires some reorientation of
the discipline as a professional practice. Moreover, with this extended emphasis upon global sustainability, Palattiyil et al suggest that critical international social work needs to seriously be grounded in localized contexts to have global effect. This framing of international social work,
therefore, seeks to expand the existing boundaries of international social work as currently understood.

Palattiyil et al argue that localized priorities are globally connected and that
international social work not only involves localized, grounded practice work, but also, simultaneously, is critically involved in cross-border work promoting broad scale social justice through agitating for policy change at the global scale. Thus, international social work in this model, thus, requires social workers to have a rigorous understanding of local cultures, sociality, and political economy, and also, to understand the ways in which global processes and practices actively prohibit the realization of human rights at the local level. Palattiyil et al argue that in turn, there are a set of shared international concerns that require the reorientation of international social work and its meaning, discourse and practice to interlink global human rights issues, with local human rights
realisation, including, but not limited to: • actions to address social work education and practice at global level; • building links between education and international practice; • recognition and integration of diverse practices rather than Global North domination of social work principles and
practices; • globalising practice through articulating the macro-structural inter-relations of globalization, human right, ecological sustainability and social development; • initiating global actions and practices to build international traction on issues of global inequality and poverty
(Palattiyil et al. 2018: 5).

Combined, the early work of Midgely (2001) and more recent work of Palattiyil et al (2018) is thus suggestive of the potentiality of international social work engaging in a form of critical practice that builds solidarity across nations on core issues of shared concern such as gendered-violence that can then be drawn upon to advance global campaigns for socially just change. As identified by Mapp (2014) critical international social work, is therefore, aimed at promoting a reflexive praxis within the field that is locally grounded, yet globally extended, with the broader goal of achieving social justice and human rights. The next section, will thus, explore, critical social work practices that have emerged in the last 10 years, through engaging with the issues of gendered-violence and global poverty.

Alternative Practices: Activist Articulations of SW Global Practice In reflecting upon Palattiyilet al (2018) and Midgely’s (2001) critical articulation of international social work, it appears that this collective body of scholarship is arguing for an international social work that is both reflexive and action oriented in its practice, such as that offered by international human rights advocacy and activism (Malhotra 2000).

I would suggest, that this body of scholarship in relation to critical international social work is also strongly aligned with broader scholarship in relation to social movement activism and the work undertaken within the global social justice movement. Moghadam (2013:15) identifies the global social justice movement as the metaphorical place where human rights activists and advocates draw critical connections between local injustices and macro-structural processes to build momentum to drive socially just global change on issues that are shared and co-exist.

102395 Critical Social Work Practice Essay-Australia.

102395 Critical Social Work Practice Essay-Australia.

Within the social movement literature, this is often referred to the ‘boomerang’ strategy –where local issues are pushed up to drive macro-structural change which in turn, such changes are then realized upon the ground (Keck and Skkink 1998). A recent example is the global movement on women’s equality and activism in relation to gendered violence, such as the global me too movement, which began in the US, then transferred to local contexts, such as India, Sweden, and Pakistan. In the #me too movement, international social workers played a critical role in
understanding localized forms of gendered violence, but were globally connected, to bring together local women activists with global feminists. This, ‘boomerang’ strategy, was thus both contextually grounded, enabling local woman to build solidarity locally, but also, gain strength from and feed
into, the global movement and vice versa.

As Gemzoe (2018) articulates, locally based social workers played a significant role in working across borders and in solidarity with global South feminist organisations, enabling the building of a global discourse to gain traction for localized feminist issues. While the #metoo movement has been particularly affective in creating global visibility of the issue of gendered-violence with international social workers being a pivotal link in bringing global solidarity across borders, critical international social work practice in the realm of modern slavery is another area of alternative social work action.

Modern slavery is a global phenomenon largely occurring within the global South, but increasingly occurring within the global North. Modern
slavery within the global North particularly involves the global trafficking of woman and children from the global South to the global North – both sex slaves and domestic workers. For example, the UK Government announced a GBP 5 Million program in 2018 to respond to the estimated 13,000
child victims of modern slavery in the UK alone (Gladwin 2018). Androff (2010) has identified that this is a unique problem for social workers, as often, social workers have not been trained nor have a consciousness in regards to the possibility of modern slavery within the global North. As such, this lack of awareness of the issue, impedes their ability to identify the signs of modern slavery and in turn, thwart their capacity to work with victims of slavery in ways that guarantee their protection and security (Androff 2010: 213).

Within the global North, critically engaged social workers involved
with the issues of contemporary slavery, particularly that involving the trafficking of woman and children from the South to North, have engaged in practices of both victim identification and the restoration of wellness (Hodge 2014) in addition to advocating for changes to recognition of the
issue at the global scale (Androff 2016) alongside activating for legislative changes to immigration law to ensure that enslaved women and children will come forward. David And roff (2016) argues outlines that individual social workers play a critical role in both directly intervening in the lives of
those who are enslaved to help them escape with safety and security, and also, draw upon their critical in depth case work with slavery’s victims to activate for structural change within national immigration law to put an end to slavery structurally. Thus, in the case of slavery, a very hidden
public issue, social workers are central to both the uncovering of contemporary forms of slavery and also, driving structural change in the global landscape that sustains and promotes enslavement.

Even though these social workers are locally grounded, their enslaved victims with whom they work are international undocumented workers, and this locally grounded course of critical social work action has international outcomes. Modern slavery within the global North, particularly with victims from the global South, elucidates Mapps (2014) and Palattiyil et al (2018) arguments that illustrate the inter-relational nature of international social work, and that local actions have global ramifications.

102395 Critical Social Work Practice Essay-Australia.

102395 Critical Social Work Practice Essay-Australia.

In reviewing the global literature in relation to international social work practice from a critical perspective primary theme to emerge from this literature is the connection between local practice and global landscapes. Thus, in all, as social workers, we should not understand our localised
practices as only having local affects. Our roles as critically engaged reflexive workers, is to understand our situated practices are embedded in global structures, processes and practices.

Rather than envisioning international social work as a practice outside the boundaries of one’s home country, as the two cases above illustrate, critical international social work practice, draws together the landscape of injustices from across the local and the global.

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