A philosophy of social work beyond the anthropocene

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Social work as a global entity seeks to empower the marginalised and to work for social justice and increasingly, environmental justice. It professes to hear the voices of those who are oppressed by powerful people and institutions; it commits to a critical approach to dominant, oppressive discourses, and; it seeks to take meaningful action alongside self-determining individuals, groups, communities and organisations to achieve social change. Despite claiming these radical purposes, dominant forms of social work are still largely a product of the modernist, humanist, Euro-Western foundations out of which they have grown. These foundations are conventional, conservative and under-examined. They are based largely on individualised subjectivity and hierarchical dualism, and this presents some major conceptual challenges for transformative social work. However, conventional social work is also arguably in an important period of transition as momentum builds to thoroughly reimagine what social work is as an academic discipline and how it is enacted in professional practice. To realise its radical potential, a thorough conceptualisation of the philosophy of social work is a critical. This chapter positions social work as an emerging radical transdisciplinary entity, focused on resisting anthropocentrism and human exceptionalism. A philosophy of social work is presented as a foundation for articulating the nature of knowledge in social work, social work purpose and scope, as well as guiding principles for theory and practice. In a systematically eclectic, composting manner, ideas from a range of feminist and critical posthumanist theorists are analysed and synthesised into a post-conventional vision for social work as we move beyond humanism and anthropocentrism and towards multispecies ecojustice for a fairer, synergist, and sustainable future. Key words – philosophy of social work, transformative social work, critical posthumanism, multispecies ecojustice
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPost-Anthropocentric social work
Subtitle of host publicationCritical posthuman and new materialist perspectives
EditorsVivienne Bozalek, Bob Pease
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780429329982
ISBN (Print)9780367349653
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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