Lecture: Repoliticizing Social Work in Europe: The Case of Belgium

Thu, 09 May 2013 17:30:00 IST - Thu, 09 May 2013 19:30:00 IST

At Room 227, Aras Moyola

Organised by School of Political Science & Sociology

Professor Rudi Roose, Ghent University, Belgium Biographical Details: Rudi Roose studied Educational Sciences and Criminology at Ghent University in Belgium. He worked as a frontline worker and as a manager in different child protection services and obtained his PhD is Educational Sciences with an action research on youth care. He is currently professor in social work at Ghent University and part-time professor in Criminal justice Social Work at the Free University Brussels, Belgium. As in other Western countries, social work in Belgium can be seen as under pressure from managerialistic discourses, 'evidence based' policy guidelines and cut backs on investments in the welfare state. As a countermovement, we also see an increase of practices of resistance seeking a way out of this dominant discourse and trying to go back to the core of ‘real social work’. In this lecture, I want to go deeper into this development of resistance by explaining current trends and problems. I also want to problematize this development, as what is considered 'real social work' is often defined on the level of the relationships with clients, rather then on the socio-political level. I argue that for this repolitization to occur, we need to radicalize or understanding of the ‘right to welfare’. In Belgium, the 'right to welfare' was installed in law in 1976 and this can be seen as a landmark in the shift from a residual to a structural welfare approach. However, currently this law is interpreted in a minimalistic rather than a maximalistic way. I argue for a revitalization of the importance of this law and the role of social workers – in Belgium and abroad - as interpreters of ‘living rights’ in order to repoliticize social work and go beyond a relational approach.

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