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Radical social welfare and anti-authoritarian mutual aid

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Current social welfare systems of the Global North are now questioned and privatisation is seen as a viable alternative. This article explores how neoliberal conditions of austerity and privatisation have indirectly created systems of mutual aid that concurrently function as forms of protest, organising and social care. Written from a social-anarchist perspective, the article draws from organising case examples and my own experiences in anti-authoritarian community organising and radical social services in the US. Prevailing models of social welfare and social work are questioned, and challenges in organising models that place emphasis on autonomy, solidarity, mutual aid and direct democracy are discussed. The article concludes that while radical alternatives may challenge institutionalised social welfare that protects against the state and capitalism, there is still room for reflection, critique and dialogue regarding radical practice.
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Keywords: community organisation; mutual aid; neoliberalism; radical social work; social anarchism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 2019

This article was made available online on October 10, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "Radical social welfare and anti-authoritarian mutual aid".

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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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