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Courageous ethnographers or agents of the state: challenges for social work

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Tensions arise for social workers when confronted with wicked policies, particularly in paving their way through dual loyalty issues and risk paradigms. By merging radical, critical and human rights perspectives and drawing on their practice ethnography, social workers can become confident advocates in challenging dominant discourses and contributing to social change. In this article, illustrative case studies are provided in the fields of social work with Indigenous peoples, asylum seekers, people living in poverty and children. Although focusing specifically on the Australian context, the article provides leads for political engagement and moral courage.
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Keywords: ADVOCACY AND ACTIVISM; COURAGEOUS ETHNOGRAPHY; DUAL LOYALTY; HUMAN RIGHTS; WICKED POLICIES

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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