The “Undeserving” Narrative in Child and Family Social Work and How It Is Perpetuated by “Progressive Neoliberalism”: Ideas for Social Work Education

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    Abstract

    “Progressive neoliberalism” is the current hegemonic approach to understanding social justice in Western liberal democracies. “Progressive neoliberalism” also resurrects the “deserving” vs. “undeserving” narrative that can lead to punitive and pathologising approaches to poor and unemployed people—the demographic comprising the majority of child and family social work service users. Indeed, research suggests that social workers’ attitudes towards families in poverty are strikingly congruent with “progressive neoliberalism.” This article suggests that generational changes and the particular form of group-based identity, postmodern social justice ideology often taught in social work education have unwittingly conspired to create this concerning picture. This article suggests that the resurrection of radical social work, with attention to economic inequality, is one way to counteract this trend.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number123
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    JournalSocieties
    Volume11
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2021

    Keywords

    • child welfare
    • social work
    • progressive neoliberalism

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