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Neoliberalism and social work in South Africa

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This article deals with the consequences of neoliberalism for social work education and practice, and proposes alternatives based on radical theories and on lessons from the Arab spring and the international Occupy Movement. While grass roots involvement and development are important, the enormous consequences of neoliberalism means that single small-scale community-based initiatives are, in themselves, insufficient to challenge the power of corporate capital, centralised authoritarian governments and the international financial institutions. The problems of local communities in contemporary society are almost always located beyond their borders. Effecting change will therefore depend on our ability to mobilise people on large scales, to build alliances and bridges across similarities and differences, to network across borders, and on joining and supporting global social movements that work toward greater social justice, deepened democracies, solidarity and respect for human dignity.
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Keywords: INEQUALITY; POVERTY; RADICAL SOCIAL WORK; RESISTANCE; SOCIAL JUSTICE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 2013

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  • An International Journal

    Critical and Radical Social Work is an exciting new journal that will promote debate and scholarship around a range of engaged social work themes. The journal publishes papers which seek to analyse and respond to issues, such as the impact of global neo-liberalism on social welfare; austerity and social work; social work and social movements; social work, inequality and oppression, and understanding and responding to global social problems (such as war, disasters and climate change).

    It welcomes contributions that consider and question themes relating to the definition of social work and social work professionalism, that look at ways in which organic and 'indigenous' practice can expand concepts of the social work project and that consider alternative and radical histories of social work activity. As a truly international journal it actively encourages contributions from academics, scholars and practitioners from across the global village.

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