This original and stimulating book examines contemporary issues in social work, particularly exploring the politicisation of the profession from the 1970s onwards. Detailing the wider social and political influences on the development of social work, the book argues that underlying much social theory and practice is a pessimistic and degraded view of humanity.
The author discusses different areas of social work in relation to this diminished view of the human subject, exploring the rise of the concept of abuse, the focus on individual vulnerability and the fear of the other, as well as the threat to civil liberties and privacy that has influenced changes in mental health legislation and the introduction of the Social Care Register.
The book highlights the need for a new approach to social work that has a more optimistic view of both individuals and society, and of their capacity to overcome problems. It is essential reading for students of sociology, politics and social work and for those involved in social policy and social care practice.
Kenneth McLaughlin is senior lecturer in social work at Manchester Metropolitan University. He has extensive experience in social care as a support worker for homeless families and as a care manager/approved social worker in a statutory mental health team.
Introduction; Understandings of and developments within social work; Politicising social work; 'Depoliticising' social work; Agency, pathology and abuse; The politics of risk and mental health; The subject of stress; From at risk to a risk: regulating social work; Politics and social work.
"A breath of fresh air in the social work literature. Such an excellent, radical critique of the politics of social work is overdue." Dr Tony Fagan, Edge Hill University
"Ken McLaughlin has challenged our understanding of Social Work by homing in on the subjective agency of the client. His assessment should lead to a reform of the law and accepted practice." James Heartfield, author The 'Death of the Subject' Explained
"All-in-all an interesting, thought-provoking book and one I certainly recommend." Steve Rogowski, BooksExtra
"Ken McLaughlin exposes the authoritarian consequences of the 'therapeutic' turn in contemporary political life and rightly insists that the future of social work depends upon it mounting a robust defence of the human subject. This is a truly radical perspective on social work, past, present and future." Mary Langan, The Open University
HEARTFIELD'S TESTIMONIAL IN REVIEWS