Racist and anti-racist social work - black and white placements perspectives

Penketh, Laura (1997) Racist and anti-racist social work - black and white placements perspectives. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This research was carried out at a particular moment in the history of antidiscriminatory social work developments, when CCETSW incorporated anti-racist learning requirements in the Diploma in Social Work (Paper 30). This was an initiative which acknowledged the manifestation of racism in the social work arena, and made it a compulsory requirement that issues of 'race' and racism should be addressed in all aspects of social work education and training. These were radical developments which signalled a serious commitment by a state welfare organisation to tackle racism.
The research examines the impact of CCETSW's attempts to implement Paper 30. In doing so, it looks at the various barriers to its successful implementation in social work agencies. Overwhelmingly, these are identified as structural and institutional in
nature, reflecting the overt and covert processes, procedures, practices and assumptions regarding 'race' to be found in social welfare organisations.
In order to analyse the effect of CCETSW's anti-racist initiatives, the research examines the experiences of black and white students on social work placements. As such, it is able to assess, for example, the levels and extent of racism which black
students encounter in agencies, and the ability of students to implement antidiscriminatory learning requirements. It also explores the ability of pnctice teachers to facilitate anti-discriminatory learning requirements, often in the face of institutional
hostility andJor apathy. In doing so, it critically analyses the process of social work education and training in the context of CCETSW's progressive anti-discriminatory policies, and in the contekt of wider political influences.
As such, the research is concerned with analysing the effectiveness of policy initiatives imposed by government agencies aiming to implement 'good' progressive practice onto social work professionals and students. In this sense the policy utilises a 'top-down' model of social change imposed from 'above' by CCETSW onto social work academics, staff and agencies. Whilst acknowledging that anti-racist teaching initiatives are clearly relevant in a society structured by inequality, the research reveals their vulnerability to counter-policies from political opponents hostile to anti-racist perspectives. In doing so, it poses the question 'To what extent can top-down policies deliver significant reform on their own in the face of institutional and structural societal inequalities?' In this respect, the research also has significance in assessing the impact of 'equal opportunities' policies and practices in the wider social welfare field.

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