The State of Feminist Social Work
STAR RATING: 3/5
This book is a breath of fresh air for anyone who has puzzled about the nature of feminist social work and how it relates to practice, particularly in state provision, writes Avril Butler.
Vicky White’s understanding of practice realities and multiple definitions of feminism exposes the myth of there being “a feminist perspective”. A critical reading of the writing about feminist social work to date offers students, practitioners and academics a framework within which to review their own understanding, positions and practices.
As a feminist who has been in social work since the 1970s, I found the first four chapters offered a view of the contradictions and dilemmas in theory and practice that was recognisable and useful. The research, however, was a missed opportunity in that respondents were chosen not because they self-identified as feminists but because they were both practice teachers and practitioners.
While issues of feminist practice, empowerment and working within organisations that are dominated by managerialism are explored, the careful analysis of feminism is not carried through to the practice research. Instead the focus moves to women practitioners as if that were the same thing. The conclusions are therefore limited.
It is disappointing that the optimistic note about the possibility of small scale resistance was not more illustrated through the work. Nonetheless, it is a real contribution to the literature about feminist social work.
Avril Butler is a fellow of the centre for excellence in professional placement learning at the University of Plymouth