Enlighten me: teaching social justice in further and higher education by reclaiming philosophically liberal values – a social work education case study

Jane Fenton (Lead / Corresponding author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    86 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    This article suggests that traditional, liberal values that comprise the broad value consensus of most western democracies may be at risk of erosion, especially in further and higher education settings. The factors that may be contributing to their devaluation include: the down-grading of belief in unique individualism and common humanity in favour of reified group identity, the erosion of the importance of ‘liberal science’ or a liberal definition of what constitutes knowledge, the supplanting of economic social justice concerns with identity matters, and the erosion of free speech. These developments are related to the promotion of a certain type of postmodern social justice critical theory, typified by critical race theory (CRT), and this article will explore their impact on education.

    Tenets of CRT, as espoused by mainstream writers, will be summarised and contrasted with liberal values to illustrate the concerns raised. In the example of social work education, the case is made that postmodern critical social work can be co-opted by ‘progressive neoliberalism’ and the punitive approach to ‘undeserving’ groups that this entails. Awareness of this concerning development is very important in the education of future professionals in any of the human services. The article concludes that liberal principles should be robustly reclaimed within social work and further and higher education more broadly.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1066-1077
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Further and Higher Education
    Volume46
    Issue number8
    Early online date16 Mar 2022
    DOIs
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Mar 2022

    Keywords

    • Liberal values
    • human services education
    • social justice
    • social work education

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education

    Fingerprint

    Dive into the research topics of 'Enlighten me: teaching social justice in further and higher education by reclaiming philosophically liberal values – a social work education case study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this