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Human Rights and Social Justice in Social Work Education: A Critical Realist Comparative Study of England and Spain

Martinez Herrero, Maria Ines and Charnley, Helen (2019) 'Human Rights and Social Justice in Social Work Education: A Critical Realist Comparative Study of England and Spain.' European Journal of Social Work, 22 (2). pp. 225-237. ISSN 1369-1457

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The history of social work as a profession and academic discipline is inextricably linked with principles of human rights (HR) and social justice (SJ). The Global Standards for social work education promote HR and SJ as unifying themes, yet there is little understanding of how these themes are embedded in social work education in specific national contexts. This article, based on empirical research in England and Spain, explores social work educators’ understandings of, and strategies used in learning and teaching about, HR and SJ. Using a critical realist framework, a web survey was followed by qualitative interviews with educators in each country to identify opportunities and challenges in stimulating students’ theoretical understanding of HR and SJ, and their application in practice. Findings show that prevailing neoliberal ideology has pervaded social work in both countries (more strongly in England) placing pressure on social work educators to convey narrow understandings of HR and SJ and to adopt increasingly bureaucratic and distant relationships with students. Identifying a range of factors informing educators’ understandings of HR and SJ, the research identifies spaces for strengthening the focus on HR and SJ in social work education. The article argues that while university-based social work education remains a fertile site for the deconstruction of neoliberal ideology that threatens the HR and SJ foundations of social work globally, social work and social work education require the development of a distinct, alternative, HR and SJ-based ideology.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: human rights; social justice; social work education; critical realism; Spain; England; neoliberalism
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Health and Social Care, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2018 15:30
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2022 13:33

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