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By Lena Dominelli

"Lena Dominelli is Professor of Social and group improvement and Director of the Centre for foreign Social and group improvement, college of Southampton, and President of the overseas organization of faculties of Social Work."--BOOK JACKET.

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This context is also multi-layered. Although centred around and surrounding the individual, it includes: ● the personal level; ● the institutional domain that encompasses familial relations, schools, the welfare state, social policies and legislation; ● religious or faith affiliation; ● the spiritual realm; ● the cultural sphere; ● the local community; ● the national domain; ● the economy – local, national and global; ● and the physical environment. Anti-oppressive practitioners seek to address this complexity by situating the person in the contexts of their social and physical environments even when their interventions involve actions primarily at the local individual or family level.

Employers have to treat their employees, the social workers, in anti-oppressive ways. The absence of these two dimensions will make it difficult for practitioners to practice in an anti-oppressive manner. Thus, the extent to which anti-oppressive practice can survive and flourish within organisations that are not committed to its precepts at the personal, institutional and cultural levels remains a crucial issue. This concern goes beyond formal legality in the context of a less than egalitarian society.

This era of welfare state building was marked by a move away from residual state forms with highly stigmatised access, to universalism and equal access for all. However, this form of universalism treated each subject or citizen as identical and normalised provisions according to white men’s needs (Williams, 1989). Nonetheless, the context of universalism has facilitated professionals’ willingness and ability to incorporate claimants’ wishes for respect and dignity into their usual routines. However, within the current historical period of the welfare state, responding to user-led demands for control and emancipation may place social workers in a difficult position vis-à-vis employers who endorse a neo-liberal modernising project.

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