Confronting Injustice and Oppression

Confronting Injustice and Oppression: Concepts and Strategies for Social Workers

David G. Gil
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Confronting Injustice and Oppression
    Book Description:

    More urgent than ever, David G. Gil's guiding text gives social workers the knowledge and confidence they need to change unjust realities. Clarifying the meaning, sources, and dynamics of injustice, exploitation, and oppression and certifying the place of the social worker in combating these conditions, Gil promotes social-change strategies rooted in the nonviolent philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.. He shares suggestions for transition policies intended to alleviate poverty, unemployment, and discrimination and examines modes of radical social work practice compatible with the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and President Roosevelt's proposed "Economic Bill of Rights." For this updated edition, Gil considers the factors driving two crucial developments since his volume's initial publication: the Middle East's Arab Spring and the U.S. Occupy Wall Street movement.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53533-5
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface to the 2013 Reissue
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. INTRODUCTION: The Relevance of Injustice and Oppression for Social Work and Social Policy
    (pp. 1-8)

    SOCIAL WORKERS and social policy professionals have always been involved with victims of injustice and oppression. Yet though they tend to grasp intuitively and emotionally the meaning of these dehumanizing conditions, they usually lack theoretical insights into their causes and into strategies to transform unjust and oppressive social, economic, and political institutions into just and nonoppressive alternatives. To close such a gap in social work knowledge, this book aims to develop theoretical insights concerning:

    The sources and dynamics of injustice and oppression

    Strategies for social change to overcome injustice and oppression

    Implications of these insights for social work practice and...

  6. PART 1 Theoretical and Historical Perspectives

    • ONE Injustice and Oppression: Meaning, Links, and Alternatives
      (pp. 11-18)

      AS NOTED in the introduction, social workers are required by the NASW Code of Ethics “to challenge social injustice” and “to prevent and eliminate domination of, exploitation of, and discrimination against any person, group, or class.” The code does not specify, however, the meanings of these terms, as if they were self-evident. Yet social justice cannot be promoted and oppression, domination, exploitation, and social injustice cannot be overcome unless their meanings, sources, and dynamics are clarified.

      Unraveling these meanings, sources, and dynamics is, however, fraught with difficulties, mainly because oppression tends to be more effective in achieving its ends—the...

    • TWO Injustice and Oppression: Origins, Evolution, Dynamics, and Consequences
      (pp. 19-34)

      Contrary to widely held and unquestioned beliefs, injustice and oppression are not inevitable, natural characteristics of human life. The study of social evolution reveals that these practices did not become firmly established in human societies until some ten thousand years ago, following the discovery, development, and spread of agriculture, animal husbandry, and crafts, which gradually generated a stable economic surplus. These new conditions facilitated the emergence of complex divisions of work, of occupational and social castes and classes, and of spatial and social differentiations of societies into rural peasant communities and urban centers. Since homo sapiens, the species of modern...

    • THREE Social Change Strategies to Overcome Injustice and Oppression
      (pp. 35-68)

      The long history of social change efforts reveals insights into strategies that failed, as well as into ones that actually worked. Potentially effective strategies can be devised by rejecting the ones that failed and by developing alternatives that avoid past mistakes.

      One important insight gained from the past is that social change activists need to differentiate short-range goals or emergency measures from long-range goals. These are all likely to require different strategies, geared to their specific goals and time perspective. This chapter is concerned mainly with long-range social transformation. Transition policies aimed at short-range goals are discussed in chapter 5....

    • FOUR Dilemmas and Vicissitudes of Social Work
      (pp. 69-90)

      SO FAR, this book has explored the meaning, sources, and dynamics of injustice and oppression, as well as strategies to overcome these conditions inhibiting human development. This chapter traces the emergence and development of social services and social work in relation to injustice and oppression and to social work’s ethical commitment to social justice. Examining these issues involves unraveling the societal context from which the social services emerged and tracing their dilemmas and vicissitudes over several centuries. As we shall see, social work and its precursors, religious and secular charities and social services in Europe, the United States, and countries...

  7. PART 2 Implications for Policy, Practice, and Organizing

    • FIVE Transition Policies Beyond Poverty, Unemployment, and Discrimination
      (pp. 93-106)

      THIS CHAPTER addresses short-term and intermediate-range transition policies to end poverty and reduce the intensity of injustice and oppression prior to eliminating their sources in the fabric of society. Transition polices differ markedly from long-term strategies aimed at eliminating the systemic causes of ill-fare and at transforming unjust institutions into just alternatives. However, they also overlap with and complement long-term strategies, for they are necessary steps toward a comprehensive transformation of the institutions and culture of unjust and oppressive societies.

      Transition policies are necessary since comprehensive transformations involve lengthy processes in time rather than brief revolutionary moments. Social movements, pursuing...

    • SIX Social-Change-Oriented “Radical” Practice
      (pp. 107-136)

      CAN SOCIAL WORKERS, while helping people deal with diverse social problems, act also as agents of fundamental social change aimed at overcoming injustice and oppression? There are no easy answers to this question, but growing numbers of social workers and educators in the United States and elsewhere think that a social change, or “radical,” orientation could be integrated into everyday practice (Bailey and Brake 1976; Galper 1980; Gil 1976, 1978, 1987; Reynolds 1985). Doing so could eventually resolve contradictions between the conventional tendency of social work, which is to help people adjust to the status quo of domination and exploitation,...

  8. Epilogue
    (pp. 137-142)

    THIS STUDY has focused on an intellectual paradox of social work. It ends by reflecting on some difficult existential dilemmas that confront anyone seeking to end injustice and oppression.

    The paradox that motivated this book is that social workers are mandated by their code of ethics to challenge injustice and oppression but that they lack adequate theoretical insights concerning these phenomena and in developing strategies to overcome them. It is obviously not possible to challenge injustice and oppression effectively when one does not understand their sources and dynamics, but it is possible to profess an ethical commitment to do so...

  9. APPENDIX A. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Economic Bill of Rights
    (pp. 143-144)
  10. APPENDIX B. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    (pp. 145-150)
  11. APPENDIX C. Framework for Analysis and Development of Social Policies
    (pp. 151-154)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 155-160)
  13. Index
    (pp. 161-170)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 171-172)