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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

Transforming Social Work

Social Constructionist Reflections on Contemporary and Enduring Issues

ISBN 9781137346421
Publication Date January 2017
Formats Paperback Ebook 
Publisher Palgrave
Series Practice Theory in Context

Humankind seems to be heading along a precarious path. If we are to redirect and bring about truly transformative change, we must develop new understandings of the complex issues facing our global society.

In this important new text, renowned scholar Stanley Witkin explores how this might be approached within social work. Using social constructionist-informed critical analyses, Witkin proposes new conceptualisations of significant social work issues and suggests innovative possibilities for transformative change.

Providing a highly accessible discussion of complex theories and their application to practice, this ground-breaking text presents a transformative framework for the future of social work.

Stanley L Witkin is a professor in the Department of Social Work at the University of Vermont, USA and co-founder of the Global Partnership for Transformative Social Work (www.gptsw.net). He has been a Fulbright scholar in Finland and Ireland and has held visiting scholar appointments at universities in Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, Finland and Hong Kong. Recent publications include topics such as social work and social construction, autoethnography, social justice, and transformative change.

Chapter One Social Construction as a Transforming Framework
Chapter Two Revisioning Social Work Ethics
Chapter Three Human Rights: a Critical Analysis
Chapter Four Difference, Noticing and Cultural Competence
Chapter Five Social Work as Risky Business
Chapter Six Re-constructing the Strengths Perspective
Chapter Seven Discourses of Globalism and Social Work Practice
Chapter Eight Knowledge and Evidence: Exploring the Practice-Research Relationship.


“The author has done an excellent job of explaining theories, epistemologies and ontologies in very readable ways. He presents philosophical and theoretical ideas in an approachable way without over-simplifying.” (Dan Wulff, Professor of Social Work, University of Calgary, Canada) “In a world of uncertainties and a barriered withdrawal into nationalistic identities, xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism and sexism, this timely book seeks “transformative alternatives to mainstream understandings.” Using a social constructionist framework, Stanley Witkin deftly challenges taken-for-granted assumptions around salient issues, highlighting the inextricable relationship between knowledge, power and discourse. He argues for spaces of negotiated and multiple truths and realities. A compelling read that social work students, practitioners, educators and researchers, and those in related disciplines will find inspiring.” (Vishanthie Sewpaul, Professor of Social Work, Zayed University, Dubai, U.A.E.) “In (Witkin’s) hands, much is transmuted. Risk, human rights, ethics, a strengths perspective (and by implication resilience), globalization, cultural competence—notions that in most cases carry positive associations in the social work community—all come under his spotlight.” (Professor Ian Shaw, Emeritus Professor of Social Work, University of York, UK and Professor of Social Work, Aalborg University, Denmark)
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