SWP Exam Review
Healy – Universalism v. Cultural relativism in SW ethics
Universalism and relativism are contested in the human rights, especially the rights of oppressed groups.
The universalist/deontologist school of ethics stresses the overriding importance of fixed moral rules, arguing that an
action is inherently right or wrong and therefore ethical rules are universal.
Universal view that all members of the family share the same inalienable rights.
The teleological/relativist school holds the ethical principles are contingent on context, ethical decisions, ethical
decisions vary on the basis of the context in which they are made.
Cultural relativist argue that culture is the sole source of validity of moral rights and rules there are no common
standards just culturally specifically ones.
The 1994 ISFW Code of Ethics identified a middle ground with the belief that universal rights/values can coexist
with the importance and relevance of culture, by stating that the first purpose of the IFSW Declaration of Ethical
Principles is to formulate a set of basic principles for social work, which can be adapted to cultural & social settings.
Issues arise in social work especially in situations regarding equality claims for women, children, ethnic, religious and
sexual minorities or involving tension over individualism over communalism.
SW ethics are about social justice and human rights.
Theory vs. Wisdom vs. Analogue vs. Art
We need to incorporate all 4 into social work, they inform each other
We need to account for our cultural and historical backgrounds in order to best support individuals, families, and
The service provider shall start where the service user is, and incorporate their knowledge and live experiences. Note:
Can this be controversial when it comes to the code of ethics..
Social Constructionism: Our values and social upbringing all influences how we understand the world, and
determine how we act and treat others in society. These are all preexisting values.
Narrative Theory: Creating a story of one’s lied experiences. Everyone has a story. Offers a meaning and a purpose.
Cognitive Theory: How the mind works to create meaning and truth out of our lived experiences. To understand
people’s behaviours we must first understand how those experiences are interpreted.
Moral Theory: Social Workers use a caring perspective to guide their practice.
Faith and Spiritually: What people believe is important stemming from their spiritual beliefs and religious
Feminist: Throughout history how women’s rights have evolved and attempted to give women meaning for their lives.
Personal issues are more likely to be a public issue for ex. Childcare as discussed in class. How do we move forward
to improve those global issues is a major question.
Social Work practice stems from Charity Organization Societies and Settlement House, and incorporates theoretical
understanding and educational knowledge, as well as practical experience.
Lundy – More history/ Theories/ Movements Historically founded from 2 different views 1) COS – casework, Mary Richmond, motivation of social duty 2)
Settlement house movement, Jane Addams, focused on broader social issues, community focused.
1 school founded at New York’s school in philanthropic work.
Has been a struggle to establish the social work profession
Diagnostic and functional schools – individual approach, focused on the present not past, help people help themselves
Fundamental techniques social case work, community organization, group work, social research and administration
During the depression the “rank and file” movement challenged the system infused with social analysis and activism
Depression solidified the need of the social work profession and social services.
After WW2 anticommunist/socialist movements deferred social action approach and encouraged primarily casework
Functional systems theory: Challenged psychoanalytic, connects person and problem with environment, individuals
are arranged in a variety of units (subsystems)
Marxist system theory: Individual problems within common experience explored how they are socially constructed,
not trying to force people into the capitalist ideal box
Postmodernism: Truth is a product of a language and social disclosure not objective or universal, help people become
authors of their own stories.
Historical Development in Social Work
Increasing poverty and inequality
COS: Increase in poverty lead to increase and need in micro level case by case service
Settlement House: Jane Addams, macro level service through social change advocacy
AOP Should be central to social work
AOP is an umbrella term that encompasses social justice, feminism, antiracism, Marxism, structural analysis, etc.
Social Work should be about community engagement and change.
SW values equity, inclusion, empowerment, community
Skills and analysis should always inform each other (praxsis)
Importance of multiple analysis, “multiple practices frameworks”. Not just AOP
Importance of sharing power, collaborative approaches to helping, not powerover relationships
Person and empowerment.
Campbell’s article addresses antioppressive social work practice, arguing that it is an “appropriate and effective framework
for social work education that is uniquely suited to realizing the mission and potential of social work in light of current social
and political realities”. (Campbell, 2003)
AOP encompasses feminist, antiracist, critical, radical, liberatory and structural frameworks, with values of equity,
empowerment, community, and inclusion. AOP can be see, then, as a practice heavily rooted in social change. Structural understanding of human behaviour, elimination of oppression and discrimination, and a vision of an egalitarian future are all
important factors in AOP.
In terms of curriculum, educators teach concepts that foster an understanding of “the pervasive, complex, and intersecting
nature of relationships of oppression and domination, an exploration of one’s personal contribution to such relationships, and
the development of knowledge and skills to change these relationships” (Campbell, 2003)
A key issue highlighted in this reading is the challenging of “expert” knowledge: recognizing that various clients have their
own valuable “ways of knowing.” Education in AOP also yields the ability for students to work in collaboration with various
institutions. Clientele and groups effectively while implementing key concepts of AOP.
Skill development, contrary to some arguments, is still important to AOP. “What distinguishes an antioppressiveapproach is
not the absence of skill development, but the insistence that interpersonal interventions always be understood in the light of
larger societal constructs” (Campbell,2003). The idea that many forms of practice be studied is integral to AOP, as different
methods work more effectively than others in various contexts.
Some Challenges outlined by Campbell in regards to AOP include “guarding against oversimplification and reductionism”
(Campbell, 2003), and strengthening the theoretical framework (complexity of understanding human behaviour in relation to
AOP is largely a means of facing and dealing with various social realities: issues such as poverty, violence, disparity of
income and wealth, increased globalization, privatization of social services, racism, homophobia, etc. “Social workers are
offered the opportunity to become adept at analyzing and intervening in light of these actualities” (Campbell, 2003)
AOP allows social workers to address two of the primary social work and missions simultaneously (promotion of social
justice, and welfare of all individuals), because it focuses on both structural factors, and personal factors.
Tester Part A
AOP should Not be central to central to social work – It is just one tool we can use, and sometimes it limits practice
It creates a false dichotomy that everyone is either oppressed or an oppressor: this is restrictive
It pathologizes oppression, makes it an inescapable label
Telling people they are oppressed is oppressive in itself. People should name their own experience
AOP tries to make all “isms” into the same oppression. Its analysis is too generic and doesn’t allow for nuance, real
lived experience, intersectionality diversity.
Social inequality isn’t necessarily about oppression & identities. It could just be about justice/injustice
AOP is antipostmodern because it itself is a metatheory (it sees itself as the only true theory)
AOP is NOT onesize fits all. We need ideas to inform social work
Tester Part B Rebuttal
We need to focus on the “pro” not the “anti”
Social work should always be prosocial justice and prohuman rights
AOP is not the one truth, but one of many lenses/approaches we should use
Antioppressive Practice emphasizes difference (in relation to the many nations and tribes in a Mozambican context)
Multiple forms of oppression give rise to multiple forms and needs for political expression which is “identity
politics” We must think critically to break down the problems in Carolyn Campbell’s argument for AOP
AOP is not the “one” truth, but is unique and best suited to help practitioners
There is divisive as well as unifying potential within theories.
It becomes complicated when we are seeking to celebrate difference while create space at the theoretical discourse
He means that for example, in Mozambique, it is important to find common ground without diminishing differences.
AOP fails to provide adequate practice framework where we confront differences and common needs.
Must realize that multiple theoretical perspectives have something to offer. (this is more respectful and intellectual
Everything we do has to be in terms of current political and social realities.
We need to emphasize “common ground” with the need of social justice and community.
Begin by focusing on western society’s predisposition towards ideology of the individual, and liberalism as a
paradigm. Bishop defines liberalism as that “(due to) people’s essential equality, social problems are shared, affect all
equally and can be solved by negotiation, Further expanding, Bishop says “There is little recognition of the unequal
resources and power different parties bring to the negotiations.”
Specific points characterizing liberal ideology are (quoted):
A historical worldview, that is a fresh start can always be made;
An institution is made up of the individuals in it;
Institutions and the people in them are basically fair minded, objective and free of discrimination;
A positive attitude has almost limitless power to sh