Book Review: Social work theories in action


Mary Nash, Robyn Munford and Kieran O’Donoghue (eds),
Jessica Kingsley Publishers

ISBN 1843102498, £19.95

Star Rating: 3/5

This is a collection of essays on social work theory from a New
Zealand perspective – although with implications for a much wider
international readership, writes Neil Thompson.

The book is divided into four parts, covering people in their
environments (ecological approaches), developing communities,
working with strengths, and attachment.

The book attempts to move beyond traditional theory in the
direction of critical postmodernist thought.

There is some evidence that the editors have succeeded in
achieving this, but there is also much reliance on traditional
theory that does not necessarily sit comfortably with a more
critical approach (attachment theory, for example).

I particularly liked the section on the strengths perspective
and this was probably the section that was most in keeping with a
critical approach. It was also good to see community development
receiving attention.

This is a book I would recommend for anyone wanting to explore a
range of theoretical issues and their implications for practice. It
contains some thought-provoking material, although it is uneven in
its quality.

Neil Thompson is an independent consultant (

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