Knowing Nothing: Understanding New Critical Social Work Practice
Keywords:hermeneutics, research, critical social work, practice
Individuals embarking on their journey to become professional social workers often state they feel as if they know nothing upon entering their practice. Regardless of the number of years critical social workers have practiced, they are also thought to know â€œnothing.â€ By utilizing a philosophical hermeneutic approach I chose to recognize that new critical social work ideas, theories and practices come from something and somewhere (Moules, 2002). This hermeneutic study involved interviewing six newly graduated social workers from with a declared critical orientation. I asked these budding new professionals to describe what happens when they begin working in organizations that may or may not support a critical ideology and how this influences their practice. Hermeneutic interpretations of the participant experiences suggest that this â€œnothingâ€ is not devoid of meaning or method, but instead involves insinuating themselves and their ideas into their agencies in a delicate curvilinear manner.
Allan, J. (2003). Practising critical social work. In J. Allan, B. Pease, & L. Briskman (Eds.), Critical social work: An introduction to theories and practices (pp. 52-71). Where, Australia: Allen & Unwin.
Arendt, H. (1951). The origins of totalitarianism. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Barndt, D. (1991). Naming the moment: Political analysis for action. Toronto, ON, Canada: The Moment Project Jesuit Centre for Social Faith and Justice.
Benner, P. (1994). The tradition and skill of interpretive phenomenology in studying health, illness, and caring practices. In P. Benner (Ed.), Interpretive phenomenology (pp. 99-128). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Bosma, H. R. (2011). (Re)visioning whole-person care: An interpretation of the health care experiences of culturally diverse persons living with a life-limiting illness. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Bowie, A. (2010). German philosophy: A very short introduction. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Branding. (n.d.) Business dictionary.com. Retrieved August 8th, 2012 from http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/branding.html
Campbell, C., & Baikie, G. (2012). Beginning at the beginning: An exploration of critical social work. Critical Social Work, 13(1), 67-81.
Carey, M. (2009). Happy shopper? The problem with service user and carer participation. The British Journal of Social Work, 39(1), 179-188.
Carniol, B. (1979). A critical approach in social work. Canadian Journal of Social Work Education/Revue canadienne d'Ã©ducation en service social, 5(1), 95-111.
Carniol, B. (2005). Case critical: Social services and social justice in Canada. Toronto, ON, Canada: Between the Lines.
Chambon, A. (1999). Foucaultâ€™s approach: Making the familiar visible. In A.S. Chambon, A. Irving, & L. Epstein (Eds.), Reading Foucault for social work (pp. 51-81). New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Chan, E. A., Chi, S. P. M., Ching, S., & Lam, S. K. (2010). Interprofessional education: The interface of nursing and social work. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 19, 168â€“176.
Davey, N. (2006). Unquiet understanding: Gadamerâ€™s philosophical hermeneutics. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Dietz, H. (1994). Hannah Arendt and feminist politics. In L. P. Hinchman & S. K. Hinchman (Eds.), Hannah Arendt: Critical Essays (pp. 231-260). New York, NY: State University of New York Press.
Dominelli, L. (1996). Deprofessionalizing social work: Anti-oppressive practice, competencies and postmodernism. British Journal of Social Work, 26, 153-175.
Doublespeak. (n.d.). Oxford Dictionary online. Retrieved August 08, 2012 from http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/american_english/doublespeak
Durst, D.C. (2005). Hegelâ€™s conception of ethical and Gramsciâ€™s notion of hegemony. Contemporary Political Theory, 4, 175â€“191.
Epstein, L. (1999). The culture of social work. In A.S. Chambon, A. Irving, & L. Epstein (Eds.), Reading Foucault for social work (pp. 3-26). New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Exaggerate. (n.d.). Etymology online. Retrieved May 10, 2012 from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=exaggerate&searchmode=none
Fabricant, M.B., & Burghardt, S. (1992). The welfare state and the transformation of social service work. New York, NY: M.E. Sharpe.
Fontana, B. (2005). The democratic philosopher: Rhetoric as hegemony in Gramsci. Italian Culture, 23, 97-123.
Fook, J. (2002). Social work: Critical theory and practice. London, England (or UK): Sage.
Gadamer, H.G. (1975/1989). Truth and method (2nd ed.) (J. Weinsheimer & D.G. Marshall Trans.). New York, NY: Continuum.
Gadamer, H.G. (1976/2004). Philosophical hermeneutics (30th anniversary ed.) (D.E. Linge, Ed. & Trans.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Gadamer, H.G. (1997/2007). The Gadamer reader: A bouquet of the later writings (R. E. Palmer, Ed. & Trans.). Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
Gardner, F. (2006). Using critical reflection in research and evaluation. In F. White, J. Fook, & F. Gardner, Critical reflection in health and social care (pp. 144-155). Berkshire, UK: McGrawHill Education.
Godkin, L., & Allcorn, S. (2008). Overcoming organizational inertia: A tripartite model for achieving strategic organizational change. The Journal of Applied Business and Economics, 8(1), 82-94.
Gramsci, A. (1971). Antonio Gramsci: Selections from his political writing (A. Hoare & G. Nowell-Smith, Trans & Ed.). London, UK: Lawrence and Wishart.
Hartsock, N. (1990). Foucault on power: A theory for women? In L.J. Nicholson (Ed.), Feminism/postmodernism (pp. 157-175). New York, NY: Routledge.
Harvey, D. (2005). A brief history of neoliberalism. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Haynes, D. T. (1999). A theoretical integrative framework for teaching professional social work values. Journal of Social Work Education, 35(1), 39-50.
Healy, K. (2009). A case of mistaken identity: The social welfare professions and New Public Management. Journal of Sociology, 45(4), 401-418.
Healy, K., & Leonard, P. (2000). Responding to uncertainty: Critical social work education in the postmodern habitat. Journal of Progressive Human Services, 11(1), 23-48.
Healy, K., & Meagher, G. (2004). The reprofessionalization of social work: Collaborative approaches for achieving professional recognition. British Journal of Social Work, 34(2), 243-260.
Hick, S. (2007). Social welfare in Canada: Understanding income security (2nd ed.). Toronto, ON, Canada: Thompson Educational.
Hick, S., & Pozzuto, R. (2005). Towards â€œbecomingâ€ a critical social worker. In S. Hick, J. Fook, & R. Pozzuto (Eds.), Social work a critical turn (pp. ix-xviii). Toronto, ON, Canada: Thompson Educational.
Ife, J. (1997). Rethinking social work: Towards critical practice. Melbourne, Australia: Addison-Wesley Longman.
Insinuate. (n.d.). Etymology online. Retrieved June 19th, 2012 from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=insinuate&searchmode=none
Insinuate oneself into. (n.d.). Oxford dictionary online. Retrieved July 30th, 2012 from http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/american_english/insinuate?q=
Ives, P. (2005). Language and hegemony in Gramsci. London, UK: Pluto Press.
Jones, C. (2005). The neoliberal assault: Voices from the frontline of British state social work. In I. Ferguson, M. Lavalette, & E. Whitmore (Eds.), Globalisation, global justice, and social work. London, UK: Routledge.
Johnson, M. (1987). The welfare state in transition. Brighton: Wheatsheaf.
Koch, T. (1996). Implementation of a hermeneutic inquiry in nursing: Philosophy, rigour and representation. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 24, 174-184.
Knox, B.M.W. (1950). The serpent and the flame: The imagery of the second book of the Aeneid. The American Journal of Philology, 71(4), 379-400.
Krajewski, B. (1992). Traveling with Hermes: Hermeneutics and rhetoric. City, MA: University of Massachusetts Press.
Lawn, C. (2006). Gadamer: A guide for the perplexed. New York, NY: Continuum.
Leitz, C., Langur, C. L., & Furman, R. (2006). Establishing rigor in qualitative research in social work: Implications from a study regarding spirituality. Social Work Research and Practice, 5(4), 441-458.
Leonard, P. (1997). Postmodern welfare: Reconstructing an emancipatory project. London, UK: Sage.
Madhu, P. (2011). Towards a praxis model of social work: A reflexive account of 'praxis intervention' with the adivasis of attappady. Available at SSRN 1766270.
Margolin, L. (1997). Under the cover of kindness: The invention of social work. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press.
Moran, D. (2000). Introduction to phenomenology. New York, NY: Routledge.
Morley, C., & Dunstan, J. (2013). Critical reflection: A response to neoliberal challenges to field education. Social Work Education: The International Journal, 32(2), 141-156.
Moules, N.J. (2000). Nursing on paper: The art and mystery of therapeutic letters in clinical work with families experiencing illness. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.
Moules, N. J. (2002). Hermeneutic inquiry: Paying heed to history and Hermes - An ancestral, substantive, and methodological tale. International Journal of Qualitative Methods 1(3), 1-21.
Moreau, M. (1979). A structural approach to social work practice. Canadian Journal of Social Work Education, 5(1), 78-94.
Moreau, M., & Leonard, L. (1989). Empowerment through a structural approach to social work. Ottawa, ON, Canada: Health and Welfare Canada.
Mullaly, B. (1993). Structural social work. Toronto, ON, Canada: Oxford University Press.
Mullaly, B. (2007). The new structural social work (3rd ed.). Don Mills, ON, Canada: Oxford University Press.
Nothing. (2001, June). Etymology online. Retrieved June 05, 2008 from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=nothing&searchmode=none
Nothing. (2008, June). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved June 14, 2008, from www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothing
Olson, J.J. (2007). Social workâ€™s professional and social justice projects. Journal of Progressive Human Services, 18(1), 45-69.
Parton, N. (1994). â€œProblematics of government,â€ (post)modernity and social work. British Journal of Social Work, 24, 9-32.
Plager, K. (1994). Hermeneutic phenomenology: A methodology for family health and health promotion study in nursing. In P. Benner (Ed.), Interpretive phenomenology (pp. 65-84). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Pozzuto, R., Dezendorf, P., & Arnd-Caddigan, M. (2006). Social work and the colonization of the life world. Critical Social Work, 7(2) [Electronic version]. Retrieved from http://www.criticalsocialwork.com
Ringel, S. (2003). The reflective self: A path to creativity and intuitive knowledge in social work practice education. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 23(3/4), 15-28.
Robinson, A. (2005). Towards an intellectual reformation: The critique of common sense and the forgotten revolutionary project of Gramscian theory. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 8(4), 469-481.
Rossiter, A. (1996). A perspective on critical social work. Journal of Progressive Human Services, 7(2), 23-41.
Rossiter, A. (2005). Discourse analysis in critical social work: From apology to question. Critical Social Work, 6(1) [Electronic version]. Retrieved March 20th, 2012 from http://www.criticalsocialwork.com
Roy, A., & Starosta, W.J. (2001). Hans-Georg Gadamer, language, and intercultural communication. Language and Intercultural Communication, 1(1), 6-20.
Schwandt, T.A. (1999). On understanding understanding. Qualitative Inquiry, 5(4), 451-464.
Schwenk, K. (1994). Why snakes have forked tongues. Science Magazine, 263(5153), 1573-1577.
Singh, G., & Cowden, S. (2009). The social worker as intellectual. European Journal of Social Work, 12(4), 479-493.
Smith, D.G. (1991). Hermeneutic inquiry: The hermeneutic imagination and the pedagogic text. In E. Short (Ed.), Forms of curriculum inquiry (pp. 187-209). New York, NY: SUNY.
Smith, S. (1991). The autobiographical manifesto: Identities, temporalities, politics. Prose Studies: History, Theory, Criticism, 14(2), 186-212.
Tremblay, G. (2003). Understanding multiple oppressions and how they impact the helping process for the person requesting assistance. In W. Shera (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on anti-oppressive practice (pp. 381-392). Toronto, ON, Canada: Canadian Scholars Press.
van Manen, M. (1997). Researching lived experience (2nd ed.). London, ON, Canada: Althouse.
Whitmore, E., Calhoun, A. & Wilson, M.G. (2011). How do you know you are making a difference? Advocates talk about the public policy process. The Philanthropist, 23(4), 437-449.
Williams, G. (1998). Love and responsibility: A political ethic for Hannah Arendt. Political Studies, 46, 937-950.
With Forked Tongue. (n.d.). In Oxford dictionaries online. Retrieved from http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/forked?q=with+forked+tongue#forked__2
LicenseAuthors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).