In order to work effectively, social workers need to understand theoretical concepts and develop critical theory. In this unique book, Paul Michael Garrett seeks to bring the profession into the orbit of the anti-capitalist movement and encourages a new engagement with theorists, rarely explored in social work, such as Antonio Gramsci, Pierre Bourdieu and Nancy Fraser. The book also provides brief, insightful introductions to other important thinkers such as Antonio Negri, Alain Badiou, Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapello. It provides an accessible and exhilarating introduction for practitioners, students, social work academics and other readers interested in social theory and critical social policy. The book will be a vital resource aiding those intent on creating a new, more radical, social work. It will also be a useful teaching tool to spark lively classroom discussion.
Paul Michael Garrett is a senior lecturer at the National University of Ireland in Galway. Previously, he was a social worker involved in community-based campaigns focused on homelessness, welfare rights, trade union rights and poverty. He is the author of several books and articles examining social work during the period of neoliberalisation. He is also a member of the editorial boards of Critical Social Policy and the European Journal of Social Work.
Introduction; Part One: Debating modernity: 'How to be modern'; Theorising modernity; 'Solid' modernity and 'Liquid' modernity; Modernity and capitalism; Modernity and the unfinished neoliberal project; Part Two: Theorists: Thinking with Gramsci; Thinking with Bourdieu; Thinking with Habermas; Thinking with Honneth and Fraser; New directions? Boltanski and Chiapello, Negri and Badiou; Conclusion.
"As neoliberalism brings “managerialism” into social services, Garrett’s highly accessible and provocative conversation with theorists importantly opens the door to critical thinking about the role of government, the functioning of social agencies and the capacity of social workers to deliver services to people in need. Garrett’s thoughtful and in-depth engagement with major social theories should encourage social workers – who sit at the intersection between the individual and the state -- to assess -- and to challenge -- the status quo." Mimi Abramovitz, Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center.
"[A] modern, invigorating,relevant and successful in generating a positive will towards politically informed and activist social work. It is highly recommended." British Journal of Social Work
"This book fills a gap in the increasingly a-theoretical literature of social work. It provides clear and incisive analyses of major critical theorists and demonstrates how their work can shape progressive practice." Michael Reisch, Daniel Thursz Distinguished Professor of Social Justice, University of Maryland
"It is a fascinating and well-written read" Malcolm Carey, University of Manchester, Critical and Social Policy
"The strengths in this text lie in Garrett's own evident passion for the topic and his cute observations of the theories", Darren Broomfield, Irish left Review
"the author has achieved a precious objective in successfully making us think, and think critically for practice" Roger Smith, Durham University, Journal of Power
"this book is essential reading for those wanting a more radical/critical social work.” Community Care
"The book is extremely well structured...a good read and should certinaly stimulate thoughts and debates" Cath Holmstrom, University of Sussex, Social Work Education
"this book is essential reading for those wanting a more radical/critical social work" Steve Rogowski, Community Care
"Garrett’s book continues the tradition of radical social work and his analysis emphasizes, by selection of social theorists, the changes since the 1970s. Due to the great “recession” discussions like this are more urgent" European Journal of Social Work
"Relevant for students and early-career researchers, Garrett's book asserts the importance of developing and extending the application of social theory in social work and simultaneously offers a strong critique of the post-modern tradition." Critical and Radical Social Work
"Paul Michael Garrett's Social Work and Social Theory is a wonderfully rich reflection on the uses of social theory to critically contextualize social work practice. Drawing on a wide range of contemporary theorists, the book insightfully shows that theory can help social workers rethink the commonly accepted understandings of their roles and responsibilities today." Sanford Schram, Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research
"This book develops important links between direct social work practice and critical social theory. [It is] written in a way which that encourages thinking about how social theories and theorists relate to everyday practice in social work, as opposed to concentrating on theories of “how to do” social work…In terms of structure, the book is accessible and could easily be used in social work education as tool for stimulating critical analysis" Critical and Radical Social Work, 2015
"This is a well-written book by a respected author. It demonstrates a wealth of relevant knowledge and provides a clear overview of a highly complex field." Neil Thompson, Avenue Consulting