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Recognising Social Work: The Influence of the Politics of Recognition on Social Work

McLaughlin, K (2014) Recognising Social Work: The Influence of the Politics of Recognition on Social Work. Practice, 26. ISSN 0950-3153

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Abstract

© 2014, © 2014 British Association of Social Workers. The politics of recognition is a common framework through which both individual and group demands are made today. Demands are made not only for individual distress to be validated, but also for cultural identities to be accorded positive recognition; in the acknowledgement of past trauma or abuse in the former, and in showing respect towards different lifestyles and beliefs in the latter. This paper discusses the politics of recognition in its historical specificity, in particular its interaction with the new social movements (NSMs) that came to the fore in the latter decades of the twentieth century. Such movements increasingly focused on cultural issues with a concomitant decline of a more materialist politics that emphasised economic redistribution. The forms that such demands for recognition can take are also highlighted. In addition, some implications for social policy and social work are discussed as whilst welfare recipients are often people requiring recognition, increasingly, welfare providers also articulate a desire for their professionalism and societal worth to also be accorded positive cultural recognition. In light of this, barriers to, and strategies for, the achievement of a form of ‘mutual recognition’ between professionals and social workers are also discussed.

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