What are the experiences and outcomes of anti-racist social work education?

Singh, Sukhwinder (2014) What are the experiences and outcomes of anti-racist social work education? Doctoral thesis (DSW), University of Sussex.

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This thesis seeks to interrogate the experiences and outcomes of anti-racist social work education and evaluate the pedagogic relevance and practice utility of teaching social work students about ‘race’, racism and anti-racism. A mixed methods research strategy is drawn upon to explore how professional social work training prepares students to work with ‘cultural diversity’ and ‘cultural difference’ and to evaluate the outcomes of teaching and learning which focuses on anti-racism. The methodological position drawn upon in this thesis is a pragmatic one (Williams, 2006), which recognises the role of both nomothetic and idiographic approaches to enabling us to describe and understand how social work students and tutors experience and make sense of anti-racist social work education and the pedagogic challenges and barriers they face to engaging with this discrete area of professional education.

Anti-racism is the theoretical and conceptual focus of this thesis and it encompasses a broad coalition of different perspectives and academic interests concerned with actively identifying and resisting racism. It has been characterised as a set of disparate polycentric overlapping practices and discourses (Anthias & Lloyd, 2002), whilst exhibiting a politically committed form of practice (Bhatti-Sinclair, 2011). It has also been described as a radical and oppositional project which emphasises the need to actively identify and resist racism (Bonnett & Carrington, 1996; Tomlinson, 2002). Historically it has been associated with the politics of resistance and social movements in support of decolonialisation, anti fascism and equal rights for immigrant workers (Dominelli, 2008). Frequently, it has been characterised as reflecting a radical dualism between ‘white racism versus Black resistance’ (Gillborn & Ladson-Billings, 2004).

Within social work education, anti-racism despite its retrenchment and appropriation into a broad ‘anti oppressive’ practice model (Williams, 1999), continues to be regarded as a progressive educational strategy which has a transformative role. It is viewed as an effective approach to challenging the attitudes and values of individual students (Heron, 2008). It can also lead to ‘perspective transformation’ (Mezirow, 1981), and ‘critical consciousness’ through the process of conscientization (Freire, 1970). Anti-racism is therefore considered to have a valuable pedagogic role in raising awareness of racial inequalities and the processes associated with racial exclusion, whilst also providing a wider critique of the state, its culture, its institutions, ideology, legislation and policy frameworks (Singh, 2006a).

The qualitative and quantitative data presented in this thesis suggests that it is possible to discover the situated experiences of teaching and learning on anti-racism and measure how these pedagogic interventions can affect and lead to knowledge, skills and attitudinal change (Carpenter, 2005; 2011). The empirical evidence drawn upon in this thesis identifies important group differences, related to age, ‘race’ and experience of working with a BME service user, which are important for understanding how anti-racist social work education is experienced differently by learners, and how it leaves a complex set footprints which enable us to appreciate how this educational intervention works in different ways for different types of students. Sometimes these differences are subtle, but at other times they are more evident and suggestive of group experiences which go beyond the individual. The empirical evidence also suggests that social work educators experience anti-racist social work education as a challenging and emotionally supercharged area of the curriculum and that their levels of engagement, preparedness and commitment is often dependent upon where they are positioned socially, culturally and politically.

This thesis is important because regionally and nationally there have been very few attempts to empirically capture how professional social work training programmes accommodate and evidence ‘race’ equality and cultural diversity issues (Williams et al., 2009; Williams & Parrott, 2013).

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Social Work and Social Care
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV0040 Social service. Social work. Charity organization and practice Including social case work, private and public relief, institutional care, rural social work, work relief
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2014 14:30
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2015 15:15
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/48607

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