Abstract: Is Social Work a White Feminine Project? Using Intersectional Theory to Examine Identities of Privilege (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

247P Is Social Work a White Feminine Project? Using Intersectional Theory to Examine Identities of Privilege

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Jill Hoselton, BSW, MSW Student, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
Christine A. Walsh, PhD, Professor, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
Background and Purpose: Understanding the effects of White femininity on social work practice is a worthy endeavour within the field of social work provided the professional landscape in the Western context is disproportionately occupied by White women. While the standard account of social work history narrates the profession to be an altruistic endeavour of White, upper and middle-class women the use of a critical lens to navigate the formation of social work as a White feminine project is vital. Accordingly, this research examines the narratives of White, female community-based social workers, tracing the dominant discourse of White femininity and its effects on social work practice.

Methods: Eight White, female community-based social workers in Alberta, Canada participated in this exploratory qualitative research project. Participants engaged in individual in-depth, semi-structured interview conducted on Zoom. Foucauldian discourse analysis was used to trace instances in which the participants performed or resisted the dominant discourse of White femininity. The theoretical framework for this study included Sara Ahmed's (2007) 'phenomenology of Whiteness' and intersectionality.

Results: Participant narratives revealed three themes including: Performing, witnessing, and disrupting scripts of White femininity. The findings illuminate the ways in which Whiteness shapes the operations of the feminine and sheds light on the effects these identity markers have on social work practice.

Conclusions and Implications: Despite efforts in social work education and practice to challenge colonization and racism, practitioners continue to embody discursive forms of oppression in their practice, thereby risking harm to clients. Intersectionality is most often used as a tool to understand minority statuses and oppression, but in order to fully engage with the uses of intersectionality and create radical social and political change, identities of privilege also require an intersectional analysis.