Structural Social Work related readings

Writings on Racism & Social Justice at

Elements of Structural Social Work
Steve Hicks-Carlton University, School of Social Work-Canada
The School recognizes that the amelioration of structural inequalities is at the heart of social work practice.

Structural Analysis of Personal Problems: Structural social work extends conventional casework notions of social context to an emphasis on how socioeconomic structures oppress. Frequently when conventional social work approaches look at environmental factors they concentrate on immediate social environment such as family, friends and work. Structural social work considers these environmental factors, and extends the analysis by consideration broader socioeconomic factors.

o recognizes importance of material resources

Defence of Client's Rights refers to worker activities directed at responding to the clients the need for adequate financial and material resources. Advocacy for client rights and adequate resources recognizes the importance of addressing issues of material resources. Conventional social work encourages social workers to emphasize personal emotions, skills, and interpersonal capacities and conveys the message that these are more important than advocacy for material resources.

o egalitarian client-worker relationship
o demystify professional techniques

Mutual dialogue structural social workers strive for egalitarian mutual dialogue in the client worker relationship. Conventional social workers maximize worker -- client power differences following the professional expert model. While consultation may occur generally prescribed solutions are proposed which clients are expected to follow.

o extend traditional casework methods
o how clients situation links with structures

Link Personal and Political structural social workers begin with the premise that existing structures are oppressive and the export changing. This involves sharing opinions and encouraging feedback concerning how the clients situation links with the primary structures of oppression. Conventional social work methods tend to blame the victim and psychologizing problems.

- do not ignore responsibility for behaviour
- explore behaviour in relation to others and structures in society

Personal Change although the structural social worker views social problems as being caused by the primary structures of oppression, they do not blame everything on structures and ignore individual responsibility for harmful behaviour. Client and worker work together to explore the clients feelings and behaviour in relation to both the structures of oppression and the behaviour of other people.

- recognize common experiences
- discuss how collective solutions occur

Collective Consciousness fostering collective consciousness requires that people recognize common experiences. Progressive social workers should link their own experiences with the experiences of others in similar situations. The client -- worker dialogue should include an examination of how collective solutions to problems can occur. Clients are encouraged to link with other people who have had similar experiences.

- involve yourself in social change action
- most important & powerful aspect

Social Activism structural social workers engage in activism to change structures. Since conventional social workers to not see existing structures as problematic, political activism is seen as unnecessary and unprofessional. For structural social workers training social action groups or movements represent one of the most important and powerful aspects of work.

Copyright 1998-2000, Steven Hick, All Rights Reserved.

related readings:

The New Structural Social Work: Ideology, Theory, Practice
Bob Mullaly, Professor and Founding Director, Social Work Program, St Thomas University
Dean of the School of Social Work, University of Manitoba-Canada
408 pages November 2006
Price: $46.49

Social Work: A Critical Turn
Steven Hick, Carleton University, Canada
Jan Fook, La Trobe University, Australia
Richard Pozzuto, School of Social Work of East Carolina University, United States
ISBN 1-55077-147-7, 236 pages (2004) / Paper
Retail Price: $39.95 CDN / $32.95 US

Social Work: A Critical Turn is both an introduction to critical social work and an examination of current theory and practice. This volume features contributions from an international group of scholars who define the main theoretical underpinnings of a critical approach to social work and examine innovative practice methods using this approach.

Social Work: A Critical Turn situates critical social work within a theoretical context, comparing it with postmodernist, radical, feminist, anti-racist and structural approaches. It also reviews key issues that require further development in critical social work theory, practice and research

The Color of Wealth
The Story Behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide

By Meizhu Lui, Barbara Robles, Betsy Leondar-Wright,
Rose Brewer, Rebecca Adamson

The New Press, 2006

The Color of Wealth is the first book to lay out the obstacles placed in the path of asset building by government actions and inactions for four different racialized groups, and to detail the boosts given to white people by public policy. The book's message is a hopeful one; the very success of programs to move white men into the middle class shows that it can be done for everyone. Inspiring case studies and realistic policy ideas point the way towards a real opportunity society.

Publisher: The New Press
ISBN: 978-1-59558-004-7
Pages: 336
Price: $19.95

Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex
Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence

Pages: 256
ISBN: 0-89608-766-2
Release Date: 2007-03-01

Empowerment-oriented case management: A challenge to the status quo?
Nugent, J. & Spindel, P. (2003).

Mississauga, Canada: Monographs Nu-Spin Publishing.
1603 Carmen Drive
Mississauga, L5G 3Z2 Canada
(905) 891-1790
ISBN # 0-9688150-0-6

Understanding and Dismantling Racism: The Twenty-first Century Challenge to White America
by Joseph Barndt
Specs: paperback, 244 pages
Fortress Press
Order from link above or call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the Web site at

Anti-Racist Social Work, Third Edition (Practical Social Work)
by Lena Dominelli

Anti Racist Social Work (British Association of Social Workers (BASW) Practical Social Work)
by Lena Cominelli

Anti-Racist Practice in Social Work (New Directions in Social Work)
by Kish Bhatti-Sinclair

Tackling Institutional Racism: Anti-Racist Policies and Social Work Education and Training
by Laura Penketh

A Katrina Reader | Readings by & for Anti-Racist Educators and Organizers
"Katrina- America's Moral Barometer"
Diana Dunn- PISAB Core Trainer