Practice and theory in social work
Anti-oppressive practice is a theory on social work. It deals with the oppressive activities that take place in the communities, cultures and economies. The main objective of the theory is to abolish oppressive activities. Anti oppressive practice is done by practitioners as well as learners in the social movement, which is managed by women and black people. The theory tries to remove inequalities that are found in the society. Additionally; beyond the discourses’ boundaries, practitioners discover questions that enable people to think about power as well as possibility. The essay below discusses the anti-oppressive theory, how it intersects with race, class, ability, gender and age as well as its relationship with the post modernism theory.
The theory addresses issues that arise due to social divisions and structural differences in the work places. It does this by providing sensitive services to people as well as responding to their needs without discrimination. “ The practice incorporates individual-centered philosophy, a non discriminatory value system whose aim is to remove the deleterious impacts of structural inequalities existing in people’s lives” (Karen 2007).
For those social workers who practice the theory, there is a strong link that gives support to those people who belong to disempowered groups. In addition to that, social movements are able to work with the disempowered groups. As a result, social services have been challenged from the ground thus making most of the private problems to become public issues, which can be addressed to easily. In that regard, personal problems are connected to public issues, which is one of the theory’s principles. Hence the oppressed are given the opportunity to speak out their problems, which are later dealt with very seriously. In essence, critical reflections that are based on discourse analysis produce useful views for practitioners who work hard to explain the gap between critical hopes and practice realities (Army, 2005).
The theory has got the principle of linking thoughts, characters and feelings of individuals to the social as well as political conditions in the society (Turner, 2006). The practitioners of this theory also provide assistance by encouraging and considering the different views of the marginalized by incorporating them into policy as well as practice. Moreover, this practice assists transformative potential by working with different and many groups and communities. Additionally, it enhances critical analysis and encourages the social institution to transform the oppressive activities that exist in the communities so that individuals may have a better life. This leads to improvement in many sectors such as the economy, education and health since every individual has a right to access resources.
According to Karen Healy, a PHD social worker, critical social work helps in enhancing social justice (2001). Social workers who are critical have come up with practical theories such as the AOP, which assist in enhancing collaborative approaches to doing things. Additionally, “ critical social workers have a mission of enlightening social workers about contexts affecting personal as well as social issues they come across” (Karen, 2001)
The theory intersects with race, gender, ability, class and age. Mentally-ill people, for instance poor black women are likely to face discrimination. Women struggle so hard to be respected in the society thus making most of them suffering from mental disorders. Men have dominated in many communities and so women are never recognized. This has led to gender bias, which results to discrimination in the societies. Poor people are also never recognized and that is why they become even poorer since the rich have dominated over them. Anti oppressive practice opposes all these kinds of discrimination by creating an equal environment.
Anti-oppressive practice ensures that the rights of all individuals are not violated (Thompson, 2007). In some communities; for instance, disabled people are not allowed to access some buildings. Therefore, the practice addresses such issues by ensuring that all people access everywhere. Discourse analysis provides a clear understanding of reconstructing practice theory such as the AOP in a way that is more noticed and realized by the social justice commitments. (Turner 2006)
The practice has incorporated the anti-racism policy. It clarifies that racism affects service delivery and negatively affects certain groups of population. Racism is a kind of oppression that is based on color. The dominant group in a racial group gets all the privileges and this becomes very unfair to the inferior group. Therefore the theory tries to remove social differences that may exist among people of different races by ensuring equal distribution of resources and equity in terms of service provision. According to Yee (2005), people should apply discourse, which is a system of possibilities for knowledge. The system enables them to identify true or false statements, which help in abolishing some issues like racism in the society.
Anti-oppressive theory addresses gender issues because many communities believe that men are superior to women. This has brought many inequalities and gender issues in the society because women are never given their rights. Men take advantage of all privileges thus creating an imbalance. The practice ensures that women are not discriminated by men by making them understand their rights in the society. Additionally, the practice ensures that women are recognized as well as protected against violence from men.
In the communities, there are different classes of people in terms of wealth. Anti-oppressive theory tries to abolish all these classes since they are the ones which determine accessibility to resources. Basically, a society with social classes allows those in the upper class to access resources first. People in the upper class also gain recognition and have the social identity. This causes a lot of inequalities that leads to oppressing the poor. A society that practices anti-oppression does not tolerate the social classes and thus there is equality. The practice promotes economic growth since every person has access to resources and understands their rights. Discourse analysis helps social workers to focus mainly on the marginalized people by considering their needs. Moreover, “ discourse analysis helps make social contradictions and ambivalence visible” (Mullaly, 2006).
Anti-oppressive theory does not encourage unequal treatment of people with low age or the elderly. It states clearly that old people should not be devalued and neither should they be disrespected. Children should also not be mistreated by their guardians due to their low age. The practice therefore protects rights of the children as well as the elderly. These people are encouraged to speak out in case of any mistreatment from their guardians.
Post modernism theory is characterized by personal opinions and relativism. It also considers reason and the role of ideology in improving the political as well the economic power. Anti-oppressive theory and post modernism theory can be linked in such a way that social work reflect and change its ontological base of ideas to post-conventional model. This leads to the development of a sincere holistic base of knowledge. Many researchers have proposed the interconnectedness of the post-modernism theory with the anti-oppressive theory so as to enhance cooperation. “ Such a re-envisioned model, would be a good representation of the of the social work activities, including social work ethics and principles” (Westhues, 2006). In addition to that, post modern theorists have assisted people in understanding the social self thus reducing oppressive actions in the society. The theorists support the anti-oppressive theory by also educating students involved in social work. They ensure equality in terms of race, color, age and gender. Moreover, the two theories do not support cultural practices that are not appropriate. Such practices include domination and oppression. Furthermore, the two theories assist people in understanding their own self. People are able to examine their own values and how they affect their work. More importantly, is how the actions of the workers enhance in curbing oppression as well as domination. In essence, anti oppressive and post modernism theories work together with an aim of bringing positive changes in the society.
A combination of two theories; anti-oppressive and post modernization, can help in the issue of battered women and children. This can be done by applying rationality and reason to advice women. The main aim of doing so is to let them know their rights so that they can be respected by other people in the society. Women and children’s rights awareness campaigns help in enlightening women and children, especially those discriminated in the society. Oppressed women should be made to understand that “ power is an integral to social problems and solutions” (Berger, 2006). Therefore, it should not be used as a policy to dominate over others. However, this may not work in some communities since they still have the traditional beliefs on men using power to violate women’s rights. The two theories assist women in understanding their differences and identity. Women should know their position in the society by understanding their rights.
With respect to grand and social work practice theory, I prefer social work practice theory; anti-oppressive theory. This is because, social work practice theory has a foundation that is based on epistemology thus deals with facts about society as well as the social relationships. In this regard, people get to know various methods of discovering things. In addition to that, the theory incorporates elements such as awareness and action (Thompson, 2008). The main aim of the action element is to bring positive change in the society. Also, people are able to reflect on their personal situations and plan their actions. In addition to that, the practice increases knowledge and skills to individuals thus become able to deal with their environment effectively. However, am still struggling with various things in the theory such as the means of fighting contradiction and uncertainty in understanding reality. This is because; the theory contradicts with many traditional beliefs and practices in almost every community.
In conclusion, anti oppressive practice is an orientation that assists in the radical social reform. Additionally, it criticizes practice relations in the society as well as attempting to change the practices. Importantly, the theory enhances social justice, which is a very important aspect in the contemporary society. It focuses on how dominant structures are produced as well as the means of abolishing them. Social reforms can only be initiated by people who are willing to have a better society since is inevitable.
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