Social Work, Precarity and Sacrifice as Radical Action for Hope

Authors: Parker, J.

Journal: International Journal of Social Work and Human Services Practice

eISSN: 2332-6840

ISSN: 2332-6832

This paper sets out the history and development of social work, primarily in the UK, in the context of uncertainty and ambiguity. The paper suggests that in an age of increased precariousness, social work itself represents a precarious activity that can be misconstrued and used for political ends as well as for positive change. As a means of countering potentially deleterious consequences arising from this, the concept of sacrifice, taken from Durkheim’s research concerning the piaculum, is used to consider social work’s societal role as scapegoat on the one hand and champion of the oppressed on the other. The paper concludes that social work’s potential for developing and encouraging resilience and hope is indicated in the ‘sacrifices’ social workers make when walking alongside marginalised and disadvantaged people.

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