Book Review – Anarchists in social work: known to the authorities


John Evans et al, Martin S Gilbert

ISBN 0954915909, £8 or pdf version

Available from

Star Rating: 2/5

It seems to me that social work is now dominated by a more
practical-based philosophy; long-gone are the heydays of radical
social work. This book is an attempt to ignite the flames of
political social work once again, writes David O’Driscoll.

The authors in this collection feel that anarchist ideas are
often ignored or misrepresented.

The seven chapters are individual attempts to describe the
authors’ struggles either as social workers or as trade unionist
representatives. The book promotes attempts to move social work
thinking away from a more authoritarian, controlling social work to
an empowering one.

The authors share a suspicion of management and organisational
structures. The stand-out chapter is Martin Gilbert’s historical
account of anarchist ideas in social work. Overall, however I found
it a less then satisfying attempt to rekindle my political

David O’Driscoll is assistant director, Respond.

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