Quinney, A., 2006. Social work theories in action by Mary Nash, Robyn Munford and Keiran O’Donaghue (eds), London, Jessica Kngsley, 2005, pp.272, ISBN: 1843102498. (Book review). British Journal of Social Work, 36 (1), pp. 165-166.
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This edited collection from a New Zealand perspective makes an important contribution to understanding the complex issues involved in working with ethnic minority groups and indigenous or First Nation people. Whilst it draws on New Zealand and Australian case material, the themes and debates addressed in the book are relevant to all social workers. The book is structured around four theoretical approaches—ecological systems, community development, attachment theories and strengths-based approaches—with case studies written by practitioners and academics clearly demonstrating how these approaches have been applied in practice to promote culturally sensitive social work interventions. The foreword by Jim Ife is important in several ways. It provides a clear statement of the underlying principles of integrating theory and practice, reminding us that in a ‘messy, uncertain and contradictory world, social workers will not all be the same, nor will they all work in the same way, and this is both appropriate and necessary’ and that the best theories ‘are based on a mix of good conceptualizing, research and practice wisdom’ (p. 9). He presents a clearly expressed explanation of the role of theories and methods in social work, making a positive contribution to teaching and learning about social work theories and methods in whatever country or context they are being studied. He also draws the reader’s attention to three important themes throughout the book: reflective practice, reminding us that ‘structures and discourses of disadvantage, dominant ideologies, and political reality all impact on a social worker’s practice’ (p. 10); domination and diversity, whether it be based on class, gender, race or religion; and the importance of both the global and the local context. These are themes that the students will be familiar with from the work of Fook (2002) and this new book will help to provide valuable case study material for teaching both social work theories and methods, and critical reflection. The transferability of the book’s subject matter across a wide range of contexts is clearly demonstrated in the chapter by Munford and Walsh-Tapiata: ‘Community development: Principles into practice’. Their discussion of core principles and values which ‘have relevance in international contexts and include social justice, redistribution of resources, self-determination and sustainability’ provides the reader with an illustration of how to reach an ‘understanding of how these are interpreted within specific cultural, economic, social, political and religious frameworks’ (p. 97). These themes, particularly of human rights and social justice, are continued in the chapter by Nash, ‘Responding to settlement needs: Migrants and refugees and community development’, in their exploration of theory-based and practice-based frameworks and the questions for reflection at the end of this chapter provide opportunities for the reader to consider the material in relation to their own local context. A limitation of this text for teaching in the UK is that the references are drawn almost entirely from Australian and New Zealand sources and may be largely unfamiliar to a UK audience and not readily accessible. Nevertheless, this is a text I will be drawing on in my teaching of social work interventions on an undergraduate social work degree programme, as it demonstrates in a clearly written and powerful way how social work theories and methods can be applied in practice settings in the promotion of anti-oppressive social work practice. [From the Author]
|Uncontrolled Keywords:||Asset-based welfare; Child Trust Fund; Social|
|Subjects:||Social Sciences > Social Work|
|Group:||School of Health and Social Care > Centre for Social Work and Social Policy|
|Deposited By:||Mr Adam Field|
|Deposited On:||04 Jan 2008|
|Last Modified:||07 Mar 2013 14:44|
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