Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Social work in extremis

Social work in extremis: Lessons for social work internationally

Michael Lavalette
Vasilios Ioakimidis
Copyright Date: 2011
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Social work in extremis
    Book Description:

    What is the relationship between social work and the state? Who controls which services needs are addressed and how? This important book looks at social work responses in different countries to extreme social, economic and political situations in order to answer these questions. Examples include: war situations, military regimes, earthquakes and Tsunamis. The results show the innovative nature of grass-roots provision and social work intervention and will be of interest to all social work academics, students and professionals.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-719-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iii)
  3. List of contributors
    (pp. iv-iv)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. v-vi)
    Michael Lavalette and Vasilios Ioakimidis
  5. INTRODUCTION: Social work in extremis – disaster capitalism, ‘social shocks’ and ‘popular social work’
    (pp. 1-14)
    Michael Lavalette

    This book sets out to look at what we have termed ‘social work in extremis’. It is an attempt to bring together a number of case studies that look at social work responses in ‘extreme’ or crisis situations. There is no single common perspective in the chapters that follow. In total we look at what social work institutions, social workers and community activists do during episodes of war, military occupation, environmental disaster, forced migrations and political and economic restructuring. Some of the authors look at the response of state social work and welfare institutions in these circumstances (Murphy and Neocleous),...

  6. ONE ‘Popular social work’ in the Palestinian West Bank: dispatches from the front line
    (pp. 15-30)
    Chris Jones and Michael Lavalette

    Over the last four years (2006–10) we have travelled back and forth to the Palestinian West Bank. Our purpose has been to interview Palestinian young people about their experiences of life under occupation. But in the process we have come across some magnificent welfare projects and have spent considerable time observing and talking to a range of workers in various projects, asking them how they understand their role and the importance of the work they do. The majority of those we spoke to had no formal qualifications in social work, yet the quality of the work they undertook, we...

  7. TWO Samidoun: grassroots welfare and popular resistance in Beirut during the 33-Day War of 2006
    (pp. 31-50)
    Michael Lavalette and Barrie Levine

    This chapter tells the story of a remarkable social welfare movement that emerged in Beirut during the 33-Day War waged on Lebanon by Israel from 12 July to 14 August 2006. This was the third time that Israel had invaded Lebanon (with previous invasions in 1978 and 1982), and the effect on the Lebanese people was catastrophic. During the war: ‘At least 1,140 civilians – 30% of them children under 12 – [were] killed’ (The Daily Star, 2006). According to Human Rights Watch (2007), Israel showed ‘reckless indifference’ to the fate of civilians during its attacks.

    These attacks included near-constant...

  8. THREE Grassroots community organising in a post-disaster context: lessons for social work education from Ilias, Greece
    (pp. 51-64)
    Maria Pentaraki

    On the 24 August 2007, 67 people were killed and 5,392 people were affected by a forest fire in the province of Ilias, a predominantly rural and semi-rural area in the Peloponnesus region of Greece. The fire was considered the worst ‘natural disaster’ in Greece during the period 2001–10. The economic damage was calculated to be in the region of US$1,750,000,000 (International Disaster Database, 2010); the environmental degradation was enormous.

    The governing party (New Democracy) argued that weather conditions had played an integral role in the spread of the fire. It tried to abdicate responsibility for its slow and...

  9. FOUR Grassroots community social work with the ‘unwanted’: the case of Kinisi and the rights of refugees and migrants in Patras, Greece
    (pp. 65-80)
    Dora Teloni

    In this chapter I reflect upon my engagement – as both a social worker and an activist – in the Kinisi movement, which has worked with refugees and migrants in Patras both to meet their needs and to campaign for political change in the way migrants and refugees are treated within the European Union (EU). I start by outlining the situation facing refugees in Greece, then proceed to look at the development of Kinisi, before reflecting on the role of social work in the campaign.

    But before I proceed I want to highlight one ‘linguistic’ issue. In political debate a...

  10. FIVE In search of emancipatory social work practice in contemporary Colombia: working with the despalzados in Bogota
    (pp. 81-92)
    Carmen Hinestroza and Vasilios Ioakimidis

    In this chapter we explore the issue of internal displacement in Colombia through a ‘social work lens’. In recent years this humanitarian crisis has reached a climax as millions of Afro-Colombians, indigenous people and peasants have been forced off their land and moved into urban areas where they face further oppression, violence and lack of opportunities. The issue of displacement cannot be seen in isolation from broader political and social struggles in Colombia nor from the ongoing civil war that has raged for almost 50 years. In these circumstances it is our contention that social work practice cannot rely on...

  11. SIX Addressing social conflicts in Sri Lanka: social development interventions by a people’s organisation
    (pp. 93-104)
    Ashok Gladston Xavier

    This chapter looks at three projects that are being run by social workers in Sri Lanka to build community robustness, women’s engagement and post-conflict cross-community engagement. By focusing on grassroots community building shaped by values of non-violent resistance and social justice, I argue that community social work models have had a significant impact in building cross-community support networks and tackling issues of inbuilt suspicion and rivalry between the different communities.

    To start the chapter, however, it is necessary to paint a picture of the background to Sri Lankan society and the roots of the conflicts that have shaped the island...

  12. SEVEN International organisations, social work and war: a ‘frog’s perspective’ reflection on the bird’s eye view
    (pp. 105-114)
    Reima Ana Maglajlic

    In this chapter, I offer a reflection on several ‘critical incidences’ from the past 20 years of my social work experience, initially as a social work student and then as a practitioner, activist and a researcher in the region that I come from, which is most commonly labelled South-East Europe. I studied social work in my home town of Zagreb, Croatia during the 1991–95 war. Following five years of study and work in England, I then lived and worked in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1999 to 2007, a country that was ‘recovering’ from a war that lasted from 1992...

  13. EIGHT Welfare under warfare: the Greek struggle for emancipatory social welfare (1940–44)
    (pp. 115-132)
    Vasilios Ioakimidis

    Critical social policy and social work studies regularly offer critiques on mainstream welfare systems, institutions and attitudes. But these approaches often leave little space for discussion about what alternative social work and welfare might look like. In the history of social work internationally there have been examples of collective and grassroots alternatives – forms of popular social work. In most cases, however, these have been written out of history and excluded from dominant definitions of social work.

    The focus of this chapter is on a specific period of modern Greek history when an organic and democratic welfare network developed as...

  14. NINE Social welfare services to protect elderly victims of war in Cyprus
    (pp. 133-142)
    Gregory Neocleous

    Within a few months of the 1974 Turkish military invasion of Cyprus, new and extraordinary social needs emerged within Greek-Cypriot society. With thousands of people becoming refugees in their own country, there was an immediate need for the development or improvement of social support networks. Today there is much discussion of the way(s) in which crisis can lead to ‘social shock’ and disasters exploited by the rich and powerful to restructure society along neoliberal lines (Klein, 2007). But the case of Cyprus in 1974 presents another possibility: intervention by the state to speed up the process of developing new, or...

  15. TEN Worker’s eye view of neoliberalism and Hurricane Katrina
    (pp. 143-152)
    Marla S. McCulloch

    The profound physical destruction of Hurricane Katrina (and subsequent Hurricane Rita) was compounded by social and political problems already firmly entrenched before the storms hit. The disaster was a product not only of physical forces, but of neoliberal ideology as well.

    My perspective is that of one of the more than 230,000 volunteers with the American Red Cross who responded during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (Becker, 2008). I was dispatched as a Disaster Mental Health worker in the Central Louisiana region. I was one of 22 mental health workers in an area that had over 200 shelters at one point....

  16. ELEVEN Social work, social development and practice legitimacy in Central Asia
    (pp. 153-166)
    Terry Murphy

    This protest song originated as part of Uzbek women’s cultural resistance to the imposed sovietisation and modernisation of Central Asia in the late 1920s and critiqued the forcible removal of the Islamic veil by Soviet authorities. This practice was presented by Soviet sources at the time as involving the liberation of women but in reality was often carried out at gun point and demonstrates dramatically the conflict generated when an outside model of development or empowerment is imposed on a society. Culturally ignorant development imposes change in a way which is experienced as alien and which negates the value and...

  17. CONCLUSION: Social work in extremis – some general conclusions
    (pp. 167-172)
    Vasilios Ioakimidis

    We started our Introduction by including discussion of the recent disaster in Haiti and its aftermath. But the book’s completion also coincided with another crisis: the dramatic sharpening of the financial crisis in Greece and the response it generated from both the governing and working classes (and, of course, the Greek example finds echoes in recent events in Ireland, Spain, Iceland, France and, more recently, the UK). The crisis exposed the long-term failure of the policies being pursued by the ruling classes, which resorted to ‘calling in’ the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to promote rehabilitation and reinstate order. The government...

  18. References
    (pp. 173-186)
  19. Index
    (pp. 187-191)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 192-192)