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Race, Racism and Social Work

Race, Racism and Social Work: Contemporary issues and debates

Michael Lavalette
Laura Penketh
Copyright Date: 2014
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  • Book Info
    Race, Racism and Social Work
    Book Description:

    Without a doubt, structural and institutionalised racism is still present in Britain and Europe, a factor that social work education and training has been slow to acknowledge. In this timely new book, Lavalette and Penketh reveal that racism towards Britain’s minority ethnic groups has undergone a process of change. They affirm the importance of social work to address issues of ‘race’ and racism in education and training by presenting a critical review of a this demanding aspect of social work practice. Original in its approach, and with diverse perspectives from key practitioners in the field, the authors examine contemporary anti-racism, including racism towards Eastern European migrants, Roma people and asylum seekers. It also considers the implications of contemporary racism for current practice. This is essential reading for anyone academically or professionally interested in social work, and the developments in this field of study post 9/11.

    eISBN: 978-1-4473-0709-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Notes on contributors
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Some terms and definitions
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  6. INTRODUCTION: Race, racism and social work
    (pp. 1-16)
    Michael Lavalette and Laura Penketh

    This book explores issues of ‘race’, racism and anti-racist social work practice – with a particular focus on modern Britain. The dominant message from the media and politicians regarding social work is that it is dominated by ‘political correctness’ and focuses disproportionately on issues of class, ‘race’ and gender. In the training of social workers there is too much emphasis on what one Conservative minister in the 1990s termed ‘isms’ and ‘ologies’ (Castle 1992).

    This view of social work resurfaced towards the end of November 2012 in a range of stories, where politicians and media commentators attacked social workers for...

  7. ONE Rethinking anti-racist social work in a neoliberal age
    (pp. 17-32)
    Gurnam Singh

    In the face of significant shifts in ‘race’ equality policies and discourses within social welfare, from those rooted in neo-Marxist critiques of post-colonial Western capitalist societies to ones based on neoliberal market models, this chapter sets out an argument for the need for a new reinvigorated anti-racist social work project. The chapter does not seek to offer a detailed step-by-step ‘how to do guide’, but rather it offers an account of the historical, ideological and political contexts within which ideas associated with anti-racist social work have developed over the past 35 years. It begins by highlighting the emergence of municipal...

  8. TWO The growth of xeno-racism and Islamophobia in Britain
    (pp. 33-52)
    Liz Fekete

    The recognition of institutionalised racism¹ by Sir William Macpherson, in his 1999 report into the death of Stephen Lawrence, was a watershed. But even as one form of racism was acknowledged and, to a limited extent, addressed,² new forms of racism were emerging, based less on colour than immigration status, culture and/or religion. Already in the 1990s, a new form of non-colour-coded racism was giving rise to a discriminatory approach towards asylum seekers and refugees, who were excluded from the welfare state and demonised as illegal immigrants and asylum shoppers from ‘over-populated’ and ‘socially insecure countries with weaker economies’.³ The...

  9. THREE The catalysers: ‘black’ professionals and the anti-racist movement
    (pp. 53-70)
    Charlotte Williams

    At various points in post-war history, the recruitment of black and minority ethnic individuals into the social services workforce has received government sponsorship for a number of reasons: to address labour shortages, for symbolic and tokenistic imaging of public service agencies or for its transformatory potential. The bedrock assumption of this latter line of argument is that altering the racial composition of the social service workforce ensures that services would become more attuned and, therefore, more accessible to the ‘special needs’ of black service users and act as a counter to institutional racism. This strategy has steadily gained in momentum...

  10. FOUR “Same, same, but different”
    (pp. 71-84)
    Philomena Harrison and Beverley Burke

    In Hanoi, as in many cities where tourists are plentiful, hawkers have developed ingenious ways of trying to persuade you to buy something, often exactly the same object that you are holding prominently in your hand! When one such vendor approached one of the authors (Philomena)on a trip to the city,¹ Philomena held up a previous purchase and said, with confidence, “See, I already have one!” The reply came, “Yes, yes, this one same, same, but different!” So began a dialogue about the nature of ‘sameness’ and ‘difference’.

    Using this theme of similarity and difference, the authors will critically evaluate...

  11. FIVE Antisemitism and anti-racist social work
    (pp. 85-114)
    Barrie Levine

    It is axiomatic that a core component of social work is its value base and related commitment to anti-racist and anti-oppressive practice. This is borne out by the weight of social work literature that is committed to challenging racism, discrimination and oppression in their widest forms through a clear focus on achieving social justice for marginalised and oppressed groups in society. This focus on anti-racist values is enshrined in the International Federation of Social Work (IFSW) Statement of Ethical Principles (2012), which guides social work practice and education from a perspective firmly rooted in principles of human rights and social...

  12. SIX Anti-Roma racism in Europe: past and recent perspectives
    (pp. 115-130)
    Špela Urh

    Written sources bearing witness to the Roma population in Europe date back to the 14th and 15th centuries. On the basis of research and comparisons of the Romani language, linguists have identified the Roma migration route and agreed that the Roma came from India in the 14th century and began to settle in large numbers from the 17th century onwards (Hancock 1988). According to Okely (1996), the Roma as a European minority have one common feature, namely being perceived as ‘others’. This ‘otherness’ has been evoked in traditional studies (for example, anthropology, sociology, social work, and so on) to orientalise...

  13. SEVEN In defence of multiculturalism?
    (pp. 131-150)
    Gareth Jenkins

    The constantly repeated message is that multiculturalism has ‘failed’. According to politicians and pundits, it has allowed ‘tolerance of diversity to harden into the effective isolation of communities, in which some people think separate values ought to apply’(Phillips 2005); it has not succeeded in instilling belief in ‘freedom of speech, freedom of worship, democracy, the rule of law, equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality’ (Cameron 2011c); and the consequences are social fracturing in which Islamist terrorism can grow or, more recently, inner-city rioting can erupt.

    The racism, implied or explicit, towards Muslims that anti-multiculturalism has given voice to...

  14. EIGHT Social work and Islamophobia: identity formation among second and third generation Muslim women in north-west England
    (pp. 151-166)
    Laura Penketh

    Social work is a profession that is committed to the values of social justice, human rights, poverty alleviation and anti-oppression (International Federation of Social Work 2007) This requires that social work academics and practitioners are aware of the roots of oppression and its various changing forms (Thompson 1993), and that they can implement these insights, acting in ways that are anti-oppressive, anti-discriminatory and just (Penketh 2000).

    Yet the problem for social workers is that these requirements are often difficult to operationalise in a shifting, complex and ‘messy’ world. How do we combine, for example, a commitment to anti-racism, cultural awareness,...

  15. NINE Institutionalised Islamophobia and the ‘Prevent’ agenda: ‘winning hearts and minds’ or welfare as surveillance and control?
    (pp. 167-190)
    Michael Lavalette

    In the aftermath of the 7/7 Bombings in London the, then Labour, Government beefed up its counter-terror strategy called CONTEST (which is always written in block capitals), central to which was ‘Prevent’: a mechanism to engage with Muslim communities and to win ‘hearts and minds’, particularly the ‘hearts and minds’ of young Muslims who are susceptible to ‘Islamic extremism’ (Department of Communities and Local Government [DCLG] 2007a). As Hazel Blears (at the time Minister of State for DCLG) said in February 2009, ‘[It’s not] because we think Muslims are violent extremists but instead it is because we know the violent...

  16. TEN ‘Street-grooming’, sexual abuse and Islamophobia: an anatomy of the Rochdale abuse scandal
    (pp. 191-204)
    Judith Orr

    Towards the end of 2012 British society was rocked by revelations from a series of sex-abuse scandals. First, the former Radio One disc jockey Jimmy Saville was revealed as a serial sex-abuser of young women in a shocking story that implicated a range of high-profile individuals and institutions in British society – from the BBC to the prison and hospital services. Then in a second set of revelations, a series of establishment figures were implicated in a terrible story about the abuse of young people in a north Wales children’s home in the 1970s and 1980s. In both cases the...

  17. ELEVEN My people?
    (pp. 205-222)
    Dave Stamp

    In October 2010, Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for Housing, John Lines, announced the local authority’s proposal to stop providing housing and support for asylum seekers, noting that in ‘these difficult economic times … my people have got to come first’ (Bloxham 2010).

    Lines’ words were an explicit articulation of a process of abjectification (Squire 2009) by which asylum seekers and other undocumented migrants are excluded from the mainstream of social welfare provision. This discourse constructs asylum seekers and other irregular migrants as ‘illegal’ – or, perhaps more accurately, as ‘illegals’, with the term becoming a noun by which those...

  18. TWELVE Twenty-first century eugenics? A case study about the Merton Test
    (pp. 223-242)
    Rhetta Moran and Susan Gillett

    This chapter is about exposing and resisting the institutionalised racism (as defined by Macpherson 1999) that is practised through the test known as the Merton Compliant age assessment that, through its introduction into the field of social work practice, is an indicator of the advancement of the neoliberal agenda (Harman 2007).

    The Merton Compliant is the general guidance to local authorities about how to decide whether a child seeking asylum who claims to be a child, is a child. It was included in the findings of Judge Burnton in the High Court in 2003¹ and, when it is used, it...

  19. THIRTEEN The role of immigration policies in the exploitation of migrant care workers: an ethnographic exploration
    (pp. 243-256)
    Joe Greener

    Demographic and social transformation in the United Kingdom (UK) in the last decade has lead to what many have described as a ‘care crisis’ (Age UK 2012; MacDonald and Cooper 2007). The decline of the nuclear family and the associated traditional gender roles and women’s increased participation in the labour market (albeit often in the low-paying sectors) are often blamed (Yeates 2009). As well as the shift of caring from the private sphere of the family to care facilities and formal services, the UK has also experienced a growing demand for care services through a generally ageing population. The increasing...

  20. CONCLUSION: Race, racism and social work today: some concluding thoughts
    (pp. 257-266)
    Laura Penketh and Michael Lavalette

    The aim of the book has been to re-open debates about issues of ‘race’ and racism in modern Britain, and the relevance for those of us involved in social work education, training and practice. Racism is a deeply entrenched social problem, built into the structure of modern capitalist societies, but this does not mean that it is static and unchanging. At different moments in time the rhetoric of racism targets specific minority ethnic groups in particular ways: black and Asian communities, (white) East European migrants, members of the Roma community, Asylum seekers or members of the Muslim community, for example....

  21. Bibliography
    (pp. 267-300)
  22. Index
    (pp. 301-312)
  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 313-313)