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Reading Foucault for Social Work
Chambon, Adrienne S., Allan Irving and Laura Epstein (Eds)
Columbia University Press / Softcover / 1999-04-01 / 023110717X
Social Work / Toronto Authors
price: $47.00 (may be subject to change)
304 pages
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This is the first book-length introduction to the work of Michel Foucault in social work. The social work profession is being challenged today to adapt to changing societal and cultural conditions and to carve out a new societal niche. Foucault's work offers a particularly relevant entry point for revisiting social work's mission, activities, and objectives.

A critical reexamination of its practices, institutional arrangements, and knowledge helps us to envision alternative social work practices and strategies for social change. Each chapter emphasizes different notions from Foucault's writings. Contributions include conceptual, philosophical, and methodological considerations, and discussions from various fields and levels of practice.

The book covers policy in child welfare and child protection; gay-lesbian youth services; grief work and the family; client-worker interaction in a welfare office; and the social movement of the elderly. It includes a rountable discussion with Foucault on social work and a glossary.

Reviews:

This is an excellent book for social workers interested in an introduction to the work of Foucault and its implications for social workers.
Edward J. Gumz, School of Social Work, Loyola University of Chicago, Families In Society

In an essay on 'Foucault and Therapy: The Disciplining of Grief,' Catherine Foote and Arthur Frank offer an excellent review of Foucault's critique of therapy. Their point is not 'to render therapy impossible but to extend therapists' sense of how problematic their work is.' (p. 157) Given the current tendency to medicalize the most basic human emotions, to diagnose instead of understanding, to label instead of analyzing, this essay should be 'must' reading for therapists....In summary, the book offers a multitude of possibilities for explorations and critique not only of what we do but of the very fiber of our age. Social work readers will find it truly educative and those who question our 'rational' practices will find it most rewarding.
Emilia E. Martinez-Brawley, Arizona State University, Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare

With the help of Chambon et al. I have discovered that his [Foucault's] ideas can not only help us be more aware of potential misuses of clinical work but can also help in understanding the clients we see in practice.
Carolyn Saari, Editor, Clinical Social Work Journal

Contents:

Social Work in Perspective

The Culture of Social Work, by Laura Epstein
Waiting for Foucault: Social Work and the Multitudinous Truth(s) of Life, by Allan Irving
Foucault's Approach: Making the Familiar Visible, by Adrienne S. Chambon
Social Work, Social Control, and Normalization: Roundtable Discussion with Michel Foucault

Social Work Practices and Knowledges Reconsidered

Reconfiguring Child Welfare Practices: Risk Advanced Liberalism, and the Government of Freedom, by Nigel Parton
Contested Territory: Sexualities and Social Work, by Carol-Anne O'Brien
Foucault and Therapy: The Disciplining of Grief, by Catherine E. Foote and Arthur W. Frank
Resistance and Old Age: The Subject Behind the American Seniors'Movement, by Frank T. Y. Wang
Surveillance and Government of the Welfare Recipient, by Ken Moffatt
Postmodernity, Ethnography, and Foucault, by John Devine
Conclusion: Issues to Look Forward to, by Adrienne S. Chambon and Allan Irving

About the Editors:

Adrienne S. Chambon is associate professor in the Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto. Allan Irving is professor at the Center for Social Work Education at Widener University and an associate professor at the Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto. The late Laura Epstein was professor emerita, School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago.

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