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Anti-oppressive Social Work Practice Theory

Activist Social Justice Social Work

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Social Work Theory and Ethics

Part of the book series: Social Work ((SOWO))

Abstract

In this chapter on anti-oppressive theory and practice (AOP), we ask what knowledge, theory, ethics and skills (practices) are necessary in order for social work not to be complicit or active in the kinds of state-linked atrocities that have headlined in many nations in the recent past. We argue that critical and AOP theories provide a way to end social work’s participation in ‘horrible histories’ such as those denounced by Black Lives Matter and other anti-oppressive initiatives, by firmly grounding practice in critical, social justice-based knowledges and theories. We argue further that AOP theories and knowledge map onto critical engaged, reflexive, activist practices that can build ongoing social justice and equity. These processes include: critical social analysis; advocacy; building capacity to mobilize colleagues and service users around positive and progressive action; critical ally-ship; critical attunement; and cultural humility and cultural safety. The chapter also identifies areas for further development including mutual dialogic development of practice and theory between Indigenous social work and AOP (including reconciliation and decolonization); LGBTQI+ social work; and social work’s relationship to the state, coercion, control and the challenges posed by Black Lives Matter and campaigns to defund the police. We conclude by emphasizing AOP’s capacity to provide the critical knowledges, theories and practices to intervene decisively on the side of equity and social justice.

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Baines, D., Kia, H. (2023). Anti-oppressive Social Work Practice Theory. In: Hölscher, D., Hugman, R., McAuliffe, D. (eds) Social Work Theory and Ethics. Social Work. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-1015-9_10

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