Historiography of South African social work: challenging dominant discourses.
Smith, Linda Harms
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SMITH, L. 2014. Historiography of South African social work: challenging dominant discourses. Social work/Maatskaplike werk [online], 50(3), pages 305-331. Available from: https://doi.org/10.15270/50-3-402
The task of examining the origins and development of social work is fraught with competing narratives. In South Africa individualist, liberal, colonial, masculine and 'white' discourses prevail. The dialectical-historical perspective, rather than chronological 'progress', shows how socio-political and economic dynamics are formative of societal conditions and of social work, which in turn has a role in shaping these dynamics. The fiction of purely historical records of progress and freedom of choice is challenged, and hegemonic and counter-hegemonic discourses uncovered. Social workers are urged to be engaged with the full complexity of events emerging from the class and race-based antagonisms of South African society.