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Promoting activism through critical social work education: the impact of global capitalism and neoliberalism on social work and social work education

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The impacts of global capitalism and neoliberalism on higher education can reduce the social work curriculum to competency-based skills acquisition rather than critically reflective, transformative learning. This encourages the promotion of establishment social work approaches aimed at accepting the status quo, rather than critical forms of social work that critique the dominant social structures and power relations that cause broad social divisions. The marginalisation of critical approaches reshapes social work towards conservative, market-led demands, yet an explicitly critical social work curriculum is pivotal to the claim of social work as an emancipatory project. This article presents original research that discusses the impact of an Australia critical social work programme on students' development as agents of change. The findings suggest that developing a curriculum based on critical social science, and using critical pedagogical processes, assists students/graduates to work effectively for social justice and promotes their participation in collective social action.
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Keywords: ACTIVISM; CRITICAL SOCIAL WORK; NEOLIBERALISM; SOCIAL WORK EDUCATION

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: March, 2016

More about this publication?
  • 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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