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Social Work

On-line version ISSN 2312-7198
Print version ISSN 0037-8054


SMITH, Linda. Historiography of South African social work: Challenging dominant discourses. Social work (Stellenbosch. Online) [online]. 2014, vol.50, n.2, pp.305-331. ISSN 2312-7198.

The task of examining the origins and development of social work is fraught with competing narratives. In South Africa Individualist, liberal, colonial, masculine and "white" discourses prevail. The dialectical-historical perspective, rather than chronological "progress", shows how socio-political and economic dynamics are formative of societal conditions and of social work, which in turn has a role in shaping these dynamics. The fiction of purely historical records of progress and freedom of choice is challenged, and hegemonic and counter-hegemonic discourses uncovered. Social workers are urged to be engaged with the full complexity of events emerging from the class and race-based antagonisms of South African society.

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