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Reflecting critically on contemporary social pathologies: social work and the 'good life'

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Oppression within society continues unabated, with novel forms of social pathology attenuating life opportunities, social freedoms and the attainment of the 'good life'. Building on Honneth's earlier 'recognition thesis', this article critically examines his later articulation of four such pathologies: invisibilisation, instrumental rationalisation, reification and organised self-realisation. The impact of these pathologies on social actors, through instances of misrecognition, is examined as a prelude to considering their influence on social work practice. A critical incident framework is then delineated in order to heighten social workers' awareness of these areas, and how they impinge on service users. It is argued that this framework can engender a socially intelligent, anti-oppressive alertness and response to contemporary forms of misrecognition and injustice in social life.
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Keywords: ANTI-OPPRESSIVE SOCIAL WORK; CRITICAL INCIDENT ANALYSIS; RECOGNITION; SOCIAL PATHOLOGIES

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Email: [email protected] 2: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: August, 2017

This article was made available online on December 9, 2016 as a Fast Track article with title: "Reflecting critically on contemporary social pathologies: social work and the ‘good life’".

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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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