Towards a post-conventional philosophical base for social work

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The need for social workers to use a range of theory to inform their practice is well established in contemporary critical social work literature. However, it is argued that the ontological base of the profession has not received enough attention, despite innovations in social work theory in recent years. In the absence of a clearly articulated ontological base, there is a risk that there will be a persistent over-reliance on conventional paradigms in mainstream social work theory. In order to develop a truly holistic knowledge base, social work needs to further reflect, re-imagine and reform its ontological base to move to a clearly articulated post-conventional paradigm. Based largely on the work of Luce Irigaray, Donna Haraway, Rosi Braidotti, Margrit Shildrick and Charis Thompson, a post-conventional paradigm that adequately accounts for interconnectedness, participation and co-operation is proposed. Such a re-envisioned paradigm would arguably be a better representation of the social work domain, including social work theory, practice and core values. The conventional paradigm grounded in positivist, linear, biomedical notions is far too narrow a base to adequately underpin the social work domain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-423
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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