Social work and 社会的 justice: A relationship at a cross-roads?

In a recently published 文章 in the Guardian newspaper a U.K 社会的 worker ‘called out’ the platitude (often found in the umbrella pronouncements of 社会的 work organisations and in the rhetoric of 社会的 work academics) that 社会的 work is ‘about’ 社会的 justice.  的following excerpt from the 文章 成为中心点。

的role of the 儿童保护 社会的 worker in today’s world is not to strive to redress the imbalance of our society. And if the 真实ity of what 社会的 workers do differs so radically from the ideology, then surely it’s time to look again at what we mean by 社会的 work and what the government and society expects of 社会的 workers?

这种及时的批评很可能会引起奥特阿罗阿许多当代从业者的经历产生共鸣。– New Zealand.  It is refreshing to hear this glaring disjunction so clearly named. Child protection practice has always balanced a care and control mandate and detection and rescue is 上 ce again at the forefront of policy development. As suggested by Cree (2013), current practice across the wider spectrum of 社会的 work has also increasingly become more about the ‘management’ of 社会的 dis-advantage – 监视, gatekeeping and control.  This is unsurprising given that the practice context is increasingly defined and regulated within a neoliberal political rubric.


Fortunately there is another option. Yes, by all means let us recognise that contemporary 社会的 work is seldom able to give more than a nod to the concept of 社会的 justice: the belief that goods, services and resources must be equitably distributed if we are to live in a fair society.  Most 社会的 work is patently not about 社会的 justice but it could be and it should be. Social work organizations, 专业的 leaders and academics should be exploring how we can bring this about. This involves getting a little dirtier than normal – coming to grips with the difficulties and contradictions of practice in a divided society.

如果我们要对社会工作进行分类,则需要首先摆出实践的政治基础。我们需要重新平衡对因果关系的理解。让我们以儿童保护实践中的社会工作为例。我们需要在与我们接触的家庭和儿童的生活中考虑到贫困。剥夺是一个经济和政治问题。这不是由人们行为不足引起的“文化”问题。摆脱贫困越来越困难,但这是我们塑造的新自由主义社会的功能。这种经济模式为政治和社会发展的深思熟虑奠定了基础。这不是固定的现实–在社会上制造的东西可能在社会上是不制造的(Bourdieu,1999)。我们有选择 –学术和专业的社会工作声音可以是问题的一部分,也可以是解决方案的一部分。


We need some dialogue. Let’s have some comments 上 this post. I would like to know what others think and feel. You don’t need to agree with me but I’d like to know what you want / what you believe is possible? Time and tide are moving. ‘Where to’ 社会的 work?

伊恩·希斯洛普(Ian Hyslop)


Bourdieu,P.(2005年)。 的社会的 structure of the economy。英国剑桥:政治出版社。

Cree,V.(2013年)。授权的新实践。在格雷& S.A. Webb (Eds.), 的New Politics of Social Work. (第145-158页)。英国贝辛斯托克:帕尔格雷夫·麦克米兰。

Nicolas,J.(2015年)。 Why pretend 社会的 work is about 社会的 justice? It’s not. 的Guardian (on line) . October 20, 2015. Accessed at

图片信用| 詹姆斯·克拉克

22 thoughts 上 “Social work and 社会的 justice: A relationship at a cross-roads?

  1. I must say that while it is ideal to deal and address 社会的 justice while doing 社会的 work it is impossible. New ideas or new thinking and methods need to be found to try and address the situation or we would have to accept the 真实isation that it is unworkable.
    Working with vulnerable 孩子们 上 its own takes up too much time to include family as Joanna Nicholas found and even when the 父母 themselves have been maltreated as a child (Nicolas, 2015). While the ideal situation is to address both the 父母 and the child, there is just not enough time. We have to choose where to expend our time in situations like this. However we should not give up the idea of 社会的 justice as this I believe would ease and address a lot of the problems.
    I agree with 阿尔伯特 that 社会的 justice is political and it does seem way out of reach but like 伊恩 says we must try and be part of the solution no matter however little. While it seems insurmountable we can at least try. Will 社会的 justice be better addressed by aggressively facing government, but is this even possible or do we just talk about it and let it lie


  2. I cant see why we are commenting 上 such an issue about 社会的 justice now . i think lets get deeper in out studies and then figure out whats right and whats wrong. Iam sorry iam just a first year student at unitec but i promise 上 ce well get to higher level we will be able to make out where is the problem-and how we can fix it.

  3. 大家好,
    I’m a first year student of 社会的 work in Unitec.
    Also thanks for sharing and comments. It gives an overview of how 社会的 workers role and dealing with challenges. I question myself “我将如何处理这些情况?

  4. 非常好的帖子,谢谢伊恩。
    当我开始阅读时,我开始摇头– in my view, 社会的 work is always about 社会的 justice. Yes, there are immediate concerns and 是, there are systemic constraints 上 how we work. 的challenge for us is finding ways to ‘cheat’系统;在我们的工作范围之外思考。


    那’s why I love 社会的 work – many questions, but no easy 答案!


    1. 嗨肖恩– I suspect your right that 社会的 work is about 社会的 justice. – or at least it always gives you a daily look at 社会的 injustice –这意味着它可以抵抗那些否认勇敢的新Aoteraroa比赛场地倾斜的地狱力量。您的实验听起来很有趣– might have to wait for the 革命 to try it but! Thanks for your contribution –保持乐观和创造力,不断前进!!


  5. 娜 maste 伊恩 ,

    很好的思考,也很及时。很明显,我们需要带回‘social’ to 社会的 work. To me, addressing 社会的 justice issues means being political. Unfortunately, 社会的 workers are forced to address 只要 symptoms and signs, not the causes. Sadly for some, it is the most comfortable option rather than digging deep and addressing the causes. I totally agree with you that we are either part of the problem or part of the solution. Most of the organisational systems where 社会的 workers work are unfair and oppressive. Being an advocate for 社会的 justice often involve fighting with the system we are actually part of. If we don’改变制度和规则,制度和规则将改变我们,我们成为压迫者。

    If we think that 社会的 work is all about 儿童保护 and managing individuals with risk who are a trouble for the society, I rest my case. In my 社会的 justice view, 社会的 work is also about addressing the risk nature of the society and the organisations in it. Our practice should be about enlarging 人’的选择和生活自由,以便他们能够以其法力参与社会。
    When we limit 社会的 work as an activity of working with individuals, we are essentially denying the aspects of ‘social’ in 社会的 work. We always talk about human rights, but how can you exercise them if you are living in an island with no 上 e around you?


    1. 娜 maste 阿尔伯特 ,

      Your input appreciated thank you. Yes I believe 社会的 work should be the 社会的 profession that does not see 人 as islands but understands that we live in relationship to 上 e another in a 社会的 context. It is important to recognise the challenge of applying a 社会的 justice lens in much of the current organisational context of day to day practice with 孩子们 and family / whanau but it is not impossible. 的社会的 justice focus is often divorced from what it is to be”professional” and a lot of harm has been done historically in Western societies under the guise of 专业的ism –对工人阶级的人和所有人“people of difference”.

      So I agree that advocacy is part of 专业的 社会的 work –不只是社区工作或直接政治活动的功能。我们可以从《白色羽毛》中的道德观念中获得一些指导&我们的RSW集体的名字来源于的莫里斯书–我们需要找到并发展团结。

      在生产力驱动的组织迷宫中忽视这一点太容易了。在法定的儿童保护中,尤其是当“only” being there for the child is an easy ethical escape route. We do need to see wider 社会的 suffering rooted in inequality and work with the stress, distress and difficulty facing family/ whanau. As I keep saying this does not ignore or discount the voice or needs of the child –广泛的了解可以使良好的实践成为可能,而不是使之无效。但是我们需要能够理解和支持这种参与和周到的系统设计–最终很多“safer” brand of 社会的 work.

      我希望这种对话能够发展。社会工作者是伟大的住宿者/伟大的中间人/伟大的谈判者– compromisers. Perhaps in our 专业的 insecurity, the demands of our clients and our sometimes contradictory missions, our sacrificial ethics …我们已经住了太久了?!正如鲍勃·马利所说” …。我们一直在您的葡萄酒新闻发布会上… tooo loooong …

      有趣的时代阿尔伯特– take care


    2. 首先,阿尔伯特(Albert)做得很好,这是他的出色评论。

      I absolutely I agree with you 阿尔伯特 上 your view of 社会的 justice, and that is how I have viewed 社会的 work as a vessel or a tool used in addressing the 娜 ture of risks in the society and the organisations within that society. Also personally, I think 社会的 work should be about enlarging 人’选择,并承认自己的生活自由,以便社会可以参与他们期望的法力。
      similarly, we should not look at Social work as a work that involves working wth 人 but a work that incorporated the 社会的 aspect of our life and works . 的社会的 part always starts when we make the first contact with the clients and their families. however this part is often forgotten yet is the foundation of your working with relationship with the client.

      1. 嗨,伊恩,


  6. 这场重要而长期的辩论总是使我想起布莱希特的诗:



    It 不会缩短剥削的年龄
    的snow meant for them falls 上 the roadway.

    唐`t put down the book 上 reading this, man.

    A few 人 have a bed for the night
    的snow meant for them falls 上 the roadway
    It 不会缩短剥削的年龄.

    – Bertold Brecht


    Achieving more than that, creating system wide change, preventing economic and ecological disaster will take even bolder moves. Will I see it in my lifetime? I doubt it. Will I help to keep the vision alive for those who follow? Absolutely. Is change possible? Of course it is. 的neoliberal imaginary has persuaded so many that we live in a post-ideological world order. 那 the market is the 只要 way forward, that we are all capitalists now. 那 is poisonous, mind numbing, 废话. Other worlds are possible, but 只要 if we believe in them. In the words of Mandela “It always seems impossible until it’s done”.

  7. 嗨,伊恩,

    1. 嗨雷切尔,
      给伊恩的好问题….. for me… no, there won’t ever be significant change, so we do what we can as 社会的 workers at a micro level, support our profession to encourage our academics and policy makers to influence governments to foster a more equal society …..(到目前为止,几乎没有明显的成功)…. so we keep doing what we do and keep having these conversations and acknowledge folk like you who decide to retrain in 社会的 work to assist the profession to act as the ‘people’s 社会的 conscience’ ….. good luck with the studies and until the 革命 or economic meltdown, model holding 上 to hope.

    2. 您好Rachael,

      这是一个很重要的问题,要不轻描淡写就很难给出轻拍的答案,但我想简短的答案是‘yes’. Social work always operates in a political context and it always deals in relations of 功率 so in this way it is always a political activity. Developing critical awareness of this in theory and practice is part of the learning process in 社会的 work education.

      这是关于进行一些分析,而不是让您的分析使您失去能力– there is a lot that can be done to promote the 社会的 justice aims of 社会的 work – sometimes challenging times lead to a renaissance of hope and advocacy. However 社会的 work also deals in the messy tensions and contradictions of the 社会的 world and has to contend with 功率 ful forces that are quite content with the status quo so it is not always easy to make progress. Dialogue and 团结 with others and not accepting that how it is is the way it must be is important – and if you can’当您还是一个学生时,您将探索这条道路吗?

      伊恩·希斯洛普(Ian Hyslop)

      1. 嗨,伊恩,

        I am also a first year Social Work student, but consider myself a born and raised 社会的 worker because everything I study is pretty much how I already think and do things. I 真实ly enjoyed this 文章 and am currently working 上 some assignments. I just wondered, is it possible to have an open forum/conference/event with 安扎斯 and student 社会的 workers across New Zealand because I think we would all enjoy the opportunity to meet experts like yourself. Secretly I think it would be good to come together and make a plan for this ‘revolution’发生而不是接受现状,而我们社区的人们却因奥特罗阿/新西兰社会内部的不公平和平等而遭受苦难。


        1. 嗨HineAo

          很高兴听到你的消息– good to know 人 still reading some of the older stuff 上 the RSW blog and it is great to have comments made – exciting time to be studying 社会的 work I reckon!

          I do think we are at a bit of a cross roads. 的question about whether 社会的 work (and 社会的 workers) can find ways of contributing to the fight against structural injustice in our society – or whether the best we can do is support oppressed 人 to manage the struggle –不是一个新的。目前,这个问题比以往任何时候都重要。

          A lot (not all) of 社会的 workers in practice would tell you that the practice 真实ity at the present time is that 社会的 work is confined to a narrow role for a lot of practical reasons –而且这种现实与像我这样从事学术工作的人可能希望成为现实的事情之间存在差距。

          Now, you can call me old fashioned if you like but I think that struggle and change goes 上 all the time and that if you have a heart for 社会的 justice you can be an advocate for this – in your work with 人 and together with others who share your hopes and dreams for a fairer society. A conference about a progressive future for 社会的 work in challenging times would be great.



    3. If we think 社会的 work has become about trying to manage the financial imbalances across society it may be time to change careers.

      1. 六月你好

        Thanks for the valuable contibution to the debate! 的important thing is to have the discussion.


        You are right that it is over-simple to say the 贫穷 is the 只要 cause of 虐待儿童 but I also think that it is too easy to say that “贫穷不是虐待的借口” when it is clear that most families / whanau where abuse and neglect is found are 人 suffering from multiple stresses. So we need to develop policy and practice that takes account of this. Equal societies are 更安全 for 孩子们 and adults.

        在过去的三十年中,我们看到了财富的重新分配–向上走向有钱人–就像世界各地一样。‘Failure’ in market based societies is often seen as the fault of bad and undeserving individuals. Traditionally 社会的 work has resisted this ideology.The theory and lived experience of 社会的 work tells us that the big picture and the small picture are related to each other.

        我们现在随时都可以看到CYF审查的结果–方向似乎全是关于以更专制的方式识别和修复高风险家庭/码头–包括在家庭/码头以外的地方进行较早的长期护理(如果需要的话)(减少Puao te Ata Tu的愿景)。据认为,这是确保儿童安全和打破虐待周期所必需的。在此分析中,虐待被视为不良,失败或危险的家庭/码头的产物。这是我们的新品‘common sense’. It either ignores structural inequality or says it is not relevant to 儿童保护 社会的 work (in fact it takes the 社会的 work perspective out of 儿童保护 in may ways).

        唐’t get me wrong – I know it isn’t easy work and that sometimes 孩子们 are unsafe and drastic measures are needed but I also know that well resourced, well trained and well supported statutory 社会的 workers can work carefully, constructively and respectfully with families to create safety and change. Social work is based 上 the value of respect without being naive about risk. This needs to be carefully balanced and it is challenging but it can be successfuly carried out in partnership with other services –包括whanau,hapu和iwi。这是我的看法‘common sense’在儿童保护中。

        当前转变的风险‘common sense’是我们发展了一种责备和替罪羊的实践文化,这种文化被隐藏在孩子的斗篷后面–集中练习。我们以不同的方式对待处境不利的公民– for their own good – and we assume that society will be safe when these 人 are washed away. This is why I think we need to clear our heads a little –退后一步,思考这个新品牌‘commmon sense’ might be taking us.


      2. ( 回复 to comment by 六月 )- HI, 是 I have to agree however, I have issues with some of the detail about the way services are delivered and the 真实ity about the ways 父母 as a 社会的 group in are treated when it comes to public rhetoric;
        它是人 who have the everyday care of 孩子们 , in whatever form they take, which may be better identified as ‘caregivers’以及这些资源的分配和使用方式,我们需要重点关注。
        它是‘nonsense’围绕虐待儿童的言论有可能忽略整体情况,并确定“parents”作为唯一的假设‘care giving ‘ 社会的 group and use this as a focus of what is often vitriolic critique.
        这种修辞主要集中在‘the poor’, which is a 社会的 group who very often are vulnerable to ‘资金权益嫉妒’谁不太可能拥有‘privilege’子女的日常养育自主控制权。
        Statements about 权利 to ‘welfare’ funded goods and services often focus of the 父母 as recipients when the 真实ity is that the actual beneficiaries are mostly third parties with vested interests, (schools, medical 专业的s, child care services, foster families, relatives etc). Often 父母 are blamed when these services fall short in their provision.
        Often the huge betrayal by 人 or (especially) service providers who have been entrusted with the care of 孩子们 , or service provision, and who have gone 上 to maim or mistreat, or more likely mismanage the care the 孩子们 receive go unnoticed in this equation.

  8. 嗨丽兹


    I am currently studying 社会的 work at waikato uni and this resonates with an issue that has been bugging me about a future career in 社会的 work. 那 question being “am I going to be able to be to get 社会的 justice for 人 or am I just going to be continuing the established system that I don’真的同意是正确的吗?”

    My personal view is that we as 社会的 workers must always strive for 社会的 justice and fight at every opportunity. However, acheiving 社会的 justice is not an overnight fix. This doesn’并不是说我们应该仅仅因为目标而放弃我们的目标’s difficult.

    我可能是错的,我’m 只要 early 上 in my studies, but that is what keeps me coming back for more!



    1. 嗨里斯– Good to see your interest. Our commitment is 只要 ‘real’如果我们那样做– and we can!


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