Session: Considering How Critical and Radical Social Work Can be Used to Address Current Challenges in Today’s Society (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

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.

101 Considering How Critical and Radical Social Work Can be Used to Address Current Challenges in Today’s Society

Friday, January 13, 2023: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM
Laveen A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
Cluster: Social Work Practice
Josh Lown, MSW, Boston College
Josh Lown, MSW, Boston College, G. Allen Ratliff, PhD, Miami University of Ohio, Fiona Doherty, MSW, Ohio State University and Cameron Rasmussen, MSW, CUNY Graduate Center
Social work, as a practice profession and a field of research, operates under a set of values that obligate social workers to approach our work toward the advancement of social justice. As such, social workers tend to focus their research and practice work on and within historically oppressed communities. This work has placed social work operations within systems that contribute to marginalization, creating a double-bind for the profession to enact its mission. The current social and political climate has exacerbated systemic marginalizations via policies that limit and degrade gains that have been made toward equitable and just social systems. Police violence against Black and Brown communities continues to occur despite mass protests, with ever-increasing funding to police that brutalize marginalized populations with continued justification in legal carceral frameworks. The anthropogenic climate crisis affects access to safe food, water, and environments for everyone and exacerbates vulnerabilities among historically oppressed communities. The recent waves of state legislation attempting to codify conformity to a rigid and outdated gender binary has targeted transgender children and their families, placing them at greater risk for suicide and family instability, and hijacking child welfare services to attack families who provide gender-affirming support. Despite these very real threats to the continued well-being and existence of those communities our profession aims to support, social work has historically reinforced the oppressive power of the state. In light of this history, there are serious doubts as to whether social work has a cohesive theoretical framework that can be employed to understand why these threats continue to recur and what is to be done about them. These social, cultural, and political threats to social work’s mission require critical and radical approaches that are grounded in social work’s history and can be revitalized for the future.

The members of this roundtable contend that critical and radical social work offers a framework to understand why these threats continue to occur and proposals for how social work should be responding to these many-pronged crises. First, the discussant (first author) will provide a brief explanation of critical and radical social work theories and the history of their contributions to the field and to social movements over time. Each presenter will then discuss a specific area of crisis that can be approached via a critical, radical social work lens. The first presenter will explore the concept of abolition in social work as a framework for how social workers can understand and respond to the continuation of police violence in marginalized communities. The second presenter will discuss ongoing anti-transgender policies and how social workers can address the scientific fallacies of these policies and respond practically to support and protect transgender people and their families. The third presenter will use a critical environmental justice lens to discuss how structural oppression and environmental exploitation stem from interconnected roots of domination, control, and othering. Finally, the discussant will respond to the presenters and provide a space for questions and discussion with the attendees.

See more of: Roundtables