Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

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Session Overview
Session
Symposium 6: Anti-oppressive Social Work: Researching Professional Practices in Significance to the Future of Social Work and Social Work Education
Time:
Friday, 18/June/2021:
10:45am - 12:15pm

Session Chair: Elena Allegri
Location: Parallel Session 2

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Presentations

Anti-oppressive Social Work: Researching Professional Practices in Significance to the Future of Social Work and Social Work Education

Chair(s): Elena Allegri (Department of Law, Political, Economic and Social Studies, University of Piemonte Orientale (Eastern Piedmont), Alessandria, IT)

Discussant(s): Shulamit Ramon (School of Health and Social Work, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK)

The proposed symposium will focus on recent researches findings on anti-oppressive and anti-racist social work. It aims to look at building innovation in teaching social work and co-constructing knowledge among academics, professionals, services users, students on challenges, dilemmas and practices. The first paper and the second paper discuss the findings from a mixed-methods study undertaken by academic researchers and members of the Council of Social Workers in Italy, whose aim was to explore the processes of oppression and discrimination within the social services In the first stage of the research, in 2020, ten focus groups were organized, involving about 100 social workers employed in different settings to analyze structural and professional conditions that may induce or prevent anti-oppressive practices.

The second paper focuses on the results of the second stage of the study, in which quantitative data were collected through a national survey on social workers’ representations of their professional mandate and engagement in actions for social justice and anti-oppressive practices. The final sample includes 4200 respondents, which is 10% of the total population. The research findings are being used to build an innovative method of teaching in social work education, debating and co-constructing knowledge to promote social justice.

The third paper presents the initial findings from a collaborative international research project involving Italy, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Jersey. This project is exploring the experiences of social work academics in teaching anti-racism in undergraduate and postgraduate courses and will report on the initials findings from an online survey conducted in the spring of 2021.

The fourth paper focuses a participatory action research project is being constructed, the goal of which is structural empowerment of disadvantaged and oppressed neighborhoods (communities) in Poland. The conclusions will be also grounded in some research projects, especially the Empowering Youth - Successful youth work practices in Europe with partners from Poland, Austria, Wales, and Finland, 2019-2021.

The discussant of this symposium will be looking at the findings from different countries, highlighting similarities and differences, and their significance to the future of anti-oppressive practice in social work and in social work education.

 

Presentations of the Symposium

 

Anti-Oppressive Social Work: researching professional practices in Italy

Elena Allegri
Department of Law, Political, Economic and Social Studies, University of Piemonte Orientale (Eastern Piedmont), Alessandria, IT

Some authors (Dominelli, 2002; Thompson, 2003; Strier e Binyamin, 2013) highlight the importance of analyzing the relationship between the State and social services, both to uncover how social policies, organizational structures and practices are arranged to protect and extend the privileges of dominant groups, and to show how social workers within these organizations risk to reproduce forms of oppression.

To deeply analyze this topic, a team of academic researchers and members of the Council of Social Workers in Piedmont (a Northern Italian region) carried out a national mixed methods research.

This paper aims to present and discuss the main qualitative research results.

Phase one of the study entailed a brief questionnaire administered to a sample of about 900 social workers, asking if they had ever assisted or stood up for an oppressed person as part of their work. This phase was followed by running 10 focus groups with 100 social workers employed in different settings (child protection, health services, and others).

On the basis of the first two phases' findings, a questionnaire was developed to explore social workers’ representation of oppression in social work and anti-oppressive practices. 4200 social workers responded to this phase, a figure that highlights the centrality of this issue for Italian social workers.

The final findings - especially qualitative ones- of this study, that will be concluded during the Spring of 2021, will be presented at the symposium as well as the analysis of their significance to the issue of implementing anti-oppressive practice and the lessons learned for both the profession and social work education

 

Anti oppressive social services. Findings from an Italian survey

Mara Sanfelici1, Barbara Rosina2
1University of Trieste, IT, 2Piedmont Council of Social Workers, Turin, IT

This paper discusses the findings from a quantitative study, included in a wider research on anti-oppressive practice in social services in Italy.

Anti-oppressive social work has become a central topic among social work scholars, guiding the analysis of practices, services and policies. Both theoretical and empirical studies highlight the importance of raising awareness about the multiple and sometimes conflicted mandates of social workers, guiding a process of reflexivity on challenges and dilemmas, and think collectively on the ways to promote social change.

Since in Italy both the debate and the literature on AOP are still scanty, the University of Eastern Piedmont and the Regional Council of Social Workers carried out a research, whose aim was twofold: 1) analyzing the processes of oppression and discrimination within the social work agencies 2) contributing to the development of knowledge that can support professionals and students to plan and promote actions against discrimination and oppression.

An online survey was administered to all the Italian social workers, obtaining a 10% response rate. The questionnaire was composed by 60 Likert scale questions to explore three main areas: a) the social workers’ representations of the professional mandate b) their engagement in action for social justice and social change, at the micro, meso and macro level c) the characteristics of the social work agencies and practices that either can trigger processes of discrimination and oppression or promote social inclusion. The research findings are being used to build an innovative method of teaching oppression and diversity in social work education, debating and co-constructing knowledge among academics, professionals, services users and students on challenges, dilemmas and innovative practices to promote social inclusion in a time of continuous and rapid changes.

 

Back to the Future

Rose Peta Parkes1, June Taitt2
1Social Work, University College Jersey, CI, 2College of Human and Health Sciences, Swansea University, Swansea, Wales

Radical and critical social work has been a part of our profession with a distinct focus on anti-racism from the 1970s. This agenda was superseded with valuing diversity and difference as part of anti-discriminatory practice. Whilst there have been legislative changes that have sought to uphold human rights and protect certain characteristics, the murders of Trayvon Martin, (shot dead by George Zimmerman under ‘stand your ground’ laws) and George Floyd (who suffocated whilst police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds) has led to global protest movements to challenge the structural and endemic racism in our communities.

This paper will discuss the initial findings from a collaborative international research project involving colleagues in Italy, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Jersey. Online survey and focus group data gathered in the spring of 2021 seeking to uncover the experiences of social work academics engaging in anti-racist practice will be presented. It will consider the myriad of ways that social work academics have sought to revise and reinstate an anti-racist social work curriculum and how their pedagogical approaches have been applied in the classroom.

It will conclude with a consideration of the extent to which earlier efforts by the profession to address anti-racist practice have been hampered by the policies and practices of education providers.

The role that individual academics can play in shaping innovative curricula to challenge racism within broader educational environments that are, predominantly, built on elite and exclusionary paradigms, will conclude our presentation.

 

Anti-oppressive community work in the process of urban regeneration: towards Participatory City Revitalization

Mariusz Granosik
Department of Social Pedagogy, University of Lodz, PL

Urban regeneration is usually promoted as an effective way to reduce social problems. The question of oppression to which the inhabitants of unprivileged urban communities are subjected as the effect of that process is rarely raised.

The specific collective oppression mentioned here is not physical, usually not even visible, and takes more sophisticated forms (discursive, conversational/persuasive, etc.) It deserves special attention from social scientists, as its discovery requires advanced interpretative structural analyzes.

Old, often neglected neighborhoods are very often the salt of the city, the center of its original culture and the area of an authentic neighborhood community based on the traditional values as value of work, loyalty, multi-generational family, community and independence, etc.

On the basis of negative diagnoses, a project of participatory action and learning is being constructed, the goal of which is individual and structural empowerment of disadvantaged neighborhoods (communities). We do hope the locality development makes communities more effective in resistance to the oppression of large municipal investments. The plan assumes a joint action (academics, practitioners, students, city officers, inhabitants) of rebuilding the historical and social pride of the communities and then including them as active and important elements of the city also in terms of labor market and political power. Another important goal there is a participatory model of social work education (field engagement, collaborative action learning, outreach education, participatory workshop, etc)

The conclusions presented at the conference will be grounded in four research projects: Critical discourse analysis of the urban investment arrangements in the city of Poznań (conducted in 2016), Conversational analysis of the practices of “unwanted” participants degradation in consultation meetings accompanying the urban regeneration of Łódź (2019), ‘Small’ revitalization of backyards in Łódź (ongoing project, PAR approach, coproduced with 4 neighborhoods since 2019), and Empowering Youth - Successful youth work practices in Europe (international ERASMUS+ project with partners from Poland, Austria, Wales, and Finland, based on BIKVA methodology, 2019-2021, the research is conducted in 11 youth work organizations, another 16 organizations are scrutinized as added sample).



 
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