Making sense of social work’s troubled past: Professional identity, collective memory and the quest for historical justice

Vasilios Ioakimidis, Nicos Trimikliniotis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Social work historiography has neglected to engage meaningfully with the most troubling aspects of the profession’s past: the histories of complicity, or at least acquiescence, in acts of state violence and institutionalised oppression. Through the exploration of historical case studies, this article provides a tentative typology of social work’s ‘horrible histories’ focusing on the project of engineering the ideal-type family, in colonial and oppressive socio-political contexts. The authors argue that practices of oppression and complicity can neither be reduced to the ‘few bad apples’ approach nor judged through the individualising prism of moralism, prevalent in Kantian Ethics. Instead, they propose an ethics of transformative reconciliation which is based on the principles of apology, respect for victims and collective action for—professional and social—change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1890-1908
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Volume50
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Ethics
  • Oppression
  • Radical social work
  • Reconciliation
  • Social work history

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