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Concept Paper

The “Undeserving” Narrative in Child and Family Social Work and How It Is Perpetuated by “Progressive Neoliberalism”: Ideas for Social Work Education

School of Education and Social Work, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 4HN, UK
Academic Editor: Gregor Wolbring
Received: 7 September 2021 / Revised: 24 September 2021 / Accepted: 3 October 2021 / Published: 8 October 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Protection and Child Welfare)
“Progressive neoliberalism” is the current hegemonic approach to understanding social justice in Western liberal democracies. “Progressive neoliberalism” also resurrects the “deserving” vs. “undeserving” narrative that can lead to punitive and pathologising approaches to poor and unemployed people—the demographic comprising the majority of child and family social work service users. Indeed, research suggests that social workers’ attitudes towards families in poverty are strikingly congruent with “progressive neoliberalism.” This article suggests that generational changes and the particular form of group-based identity, postmodern social justice ideology often taught in social work education have unwittingly conspired to create this concerning picture. This article suggests that the resurrection of radical social work, with attention to economic inequality, is one way to counteract this trend. View Full-Text
Keywords: child welfare; social work; progressive neoliberalism child welfare; social work; progressive neoliberalism
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MDPI and ACS Style

Fenton, J. The “Undeserving” Narrative in Child and Family Social Work and How It Is Perpetuated by “Progressive Neoliberalism”: Ideas for Social Work Education. Societies 2021, 11, 123. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/soc11040123

AMA Style

Fenton J. The “Undeserving” Narrative in Child and Family Social Work and How It Is Perpetuated by “Progressive Neoliberalism”: Ideas for Social Work Education. Societies. 2021; 11(4):123. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/soc11040123

Chicago/Turabian Style

Fenton, Jane. 2021. "The “Undeserving” Narrative in Child and Family Social Work and How It Is Perpetuated by “Progressive Neoliberalism”: Ideas for Social Work Education" Societies 11, no. 4: 123. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/soc11040123

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