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Critical reflexivity, social work, and the emerging European post-welfare states

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In this paper I examine some of the main origins of the idea of (critical) reflexivity, its introduction into social work discourses, and its relationship to the long-established concepts of 'reflective practice' and 'critical reflection'. The main idea underlying the discussion is the assumption that current discussions about reflexivity are a response to a fundamental transformation of the social order in European countries since the 1970s. I begin with the context of this transformation ('transformation as it is') and then discuss how social work might position itself within this transformatory agenda ('transformation as a project'). I argue that critical reflexivity calls for social work to have a clear position, and conclude by suggesting how it might mobilise itself.

Keywords: (critical) reflexivity; critical social work; post-welfare states/post welfarism; professionalism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Duisburg-Essen University, Faculty for Educational Sciences, Center for Social Work & Social Policy, Essen, Germany

Publication date: September 1, 2009


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