Social work theories


This assessment requires to demonstrate their knowledge of social work theories.
 The chosen theories are:-
1. Critical Theory
2. Antioppessive theory. 


Social work theories 




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Social; work is defined as the academic discipline that is mainly concern with individuals, families, groups, and communities for the enhancement of social functioning and well-being. Social work is mainly applied on social sciences like political science, public health, sociology, psychology etc. to make it engaging with the client system, by conducting assessments and developing interventions for solving personal and social problems which will create social change (Cocker,2014).in social work several theories are propounded by eminent scholars and in the present essay the analysis of the theories named Anti-oppressive and critical theory will be discussed by underpinning the various key elements of these theories in the context of social work and its values. This essay will include examples from practical experiences and insight of the literature, which will highlight the influence of these influence in the social work by making the critical reflection of these theories in the context of social work.


Synopsis of theories and development of an argument 


The context of social work dates back in the 19th century as the community and the charitable activities for providing support to the poor and disadvantaged people from the charitable community perspective the social worker will develop its strengths from the fields that aim at challenging inequality, by promoting social attachment and independence to the society challenging inequality, by promoting social attachment and independence to the society. . With the help of these values, the concept of social work has broadened its base and developed into the critical social work theory. In the words of (Adams,2012) it is stated that social work gets its origin from the Christian term in terms of commitment to social problems that will affect the individuals as a whole. the economic crisis of United Kingdom in the year 1970 which is due to the high oil prices raises the social issues like unemployment, poor housing, poverty, and vagrancy broadened the focus of social work by addressing the issues and problems related to society. The critical work theory is also known as the social theory, for criticizing and changing the society as a whole. The critical theory of social work is defined as the theory of human dependence and management. according to Theodor and Max the critical theory is defined as the theory of human freedom which is based on the concept of free society, by controlling the bourgeoisies working class by manipulating their interests in politics, media, culture etc. the critical theory of social work argues that in society there are various types of manipulations, which includes justification of decisions on the basis of enforcement of thoughts which is termed as ideological (Delgado,2017). And on the other hand, it consists of an attempt of commercializing the status symbol of the working class, which is termed as cultural. And thirdly the psychological aspect will be considered in which the interest is there in other person life, due to the declining factor of the father figure in a family. according to (Horkheimer,1986 ) it is argued that in a capitalist society change can only be imposed if it became some more democratic and it is due to the social life conditions that are controlled by the human beings due to real harmony in the balanced society. He also believed that the only way of fixing problems in the society is the introduction of critical theory in the society.
According to the critical theorists, it is argued that Marx will not contribute to the key development s of the capitalist society. The developments include the mechanism of ideology, culture and psychological domination that is associated with the development of the mass media. The critical theorists also believe that if we want a change in society that we have to first define that what is wrong in the current society, by identifying the factors of change by achieving goals for social transformation. the critical theorists will also be argued on the fact that humans need to be aware of the facts and knowledge of work in creating coercion in knowledge, by identification of facts which is seen as the foundation for the humans, that leads to the realization of power and influence in their lives to overcome them.
On the other hand, the anti-oppressive theory of social work is recognized as the first to oppress the society, culture, and communities for eliminating the pressure in terms of oppression. An anti-oppressive theory is seen as the collection of terms which includes diverse approaches like anti-racist, feminist, critical and radical frameworks (Denzin,2016). Anti-oppressive social, theory defined various theories and practices that help in adopting the social justice perspectives. Therefore it should be considered as the perspective towards practice rather than adopting it as the practical approach. 
According to (Demi, 2014) the anti-oppressive social work is defined as the social practice that explores for social barriers and inequalities in terms of service workers. The anti-oppressive practice of social work will offer more responsive, suitable and sensitive services by responding to the needs of the individuals without considering the social status. He also believes that it characterizes an individually oriented philosophy and a classless system of values that is concerned with decreasing the lethal results of operational disparities upon the lives of societies(2018). It is also defined as the practice that emphases both on procedures and on results and is a method of organizing interactions between societies that struggle to authorize users by declining the opposing consequences of hierarchy during their interface with each other and the actions they did together.
Social workers have to emphasize on their abilities by following the attitude of anti-oppressive practices in different ways. in the sayings of (Dalymple,2014) it is stated that social workers will obtain knowledge and understanding from their own self, by adopting the social system, with different cultures and groups, which is considered as the fundamental right of human in order to face issues on personal and group levels by pursuing anti-oppressive practices. This theory will identify the need for social workers for becoming familiar with the cultural issues and human rights, in terms of those that are relevant for the service operators, for engaging them in anti-oppressive practices. In the words of (Greene,2017 ) anti-oppression is defined as the combination of a bunch of oppression on a whole. It is viewed as the central way of oppressing ruling relations in society. It is seen as the way of linking live experiences in the discourse of ruling. In the research conducted by Williams, he proposed that the oppressive framework can help the social; workers in challenging oppression, by building rationale in the oppressive action that will focus on the anti-racist change. The research of Williams opposes that the equity notion and social justice provide the framework of helping social workers by avoiding the oppression hierarchy on a single axis. he also states that oppression exists in society for the maintenance of the unequal status, and this approach is used by the modern-day social workers for experiencing the distinctive improvement of an anti-oppression approach that is progressively exchanging age-old social work models of single rehabilitation and self-realization. Anti-oppressive theory mainly pulls out from a societal model of difference. It is based on social constructionist models of changes, cultural, indigenous, gendered, and others, which are formed within the context of insufficient social power relationships (Mullaly,2018). It thus intensely debates for the expansion of practice that encounters, challenges, and modifies uneven configurations at different levels.
The anti-oppression theory of social work focuses on all the forms of social inequality, which mainly focus on bringing equality in terms of social justice.  But in the present scenario, the oppressive actions of social justice will undermine the fundamental human right of an individual (Hepworth,2016). The oppression and empowerment in the social practice relate to bringing social justice, by minimizing the requirements of the existence. The social workers who are aware of the human rights can effectively apply human right perspective for avoiding violations. The social workers also view oppressions and as the circumstances that lead to infrastructural resources for the effective abolition of oppression for reducing its impact (Hutchison,2015). The awareness and adoption of human rights will help the social workers in framing the situations that lead to oppression by the violation of rights, in making citizens resolving the violations. the anti-oppression theory also aware the social workers in terms of service users and the differences that will exist in the understanding of different ways of oppression for the groups like minorities and members of the dominant groups.


Critical reflection about the implication of theories in social work practice


There are recent developments that affect and led to the drastic changes in the social work practices. The present article defines the concept of both the theories i.e. anti-oppressive and critical thinking in the context of the synopsis of the theories by knowing their characteristics and drawbacks. The professional development in the context of social work is strongly related to the society and culture by adopting the theories and methods of social work that will help in influencing people in day to day life. The social work theories are treated as the models for various problems like poverty, youth problems and social exclusion (Introduction to Anti-Oppressive Practice,2018). These social developments have a serious need of critical perspective on the implication of both the theories of social terms of anti-oppressive theories the main mission of social workers is to enhance the wellbeing of the people who are poor, and oppressed  by significantly develop the cultural diversity and uniqueness, irrespective of race, caste, background religion , etc. whereas on the other hand the critical theory of social work is based on the setting of making humans free from dependence and manipulation, but this setting will only be done in the concept of free capitalist society by making justification in decisions by enforcing one thought into another (Miley,2016). The critical theories focus on reflective, dialectic, and critical aspect whereas the anti-oppressive theory is based on the awareness of human rights by adopting the human right perspective which ultimately benefits social workers for addressing the situations related to inequality and oppression.




To conclude the essay , that is based on the social work theories and its implication in social work practices, it is found out that the paper has explored that the social workers who want to adopt the anti-oppressive approach can use the framework of power relationship , which involves a practice that is used as the reflection of power , in terms of listening the oppressed and act against oppression, whereas the critical theory is mainly critical on the aspect that how society is playing in terms of exploiting humans, especially in the labor jobs. However, the critical theory is criticized on the point that it always look towards the society in a negative way, by explaining what is wrong in society, and what should be needed to make it right.




Cocker, C., & Hafford-Letchfield, T. (2014). Rethinking anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive theories for social work practice. Palgrave Macmillan.
Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (2017). Critical race theory: An introduction. NYU Press.
Denzin, N. K., & Giardina, M. D. (2016). Introduction. In Qualitative Inquiry—Past, Present, and Future (pp. 9-38). Routledge.
Greene, R. (2017). Human behavior theory and social work practice. Routledge.
Hepworth, D. H., Rooney, R. H., Rooney, G. D., & Strom-Gottfried, K. (2016). Empowerment Series: Direct social work practice: Theory and skills. Nelson Education.
Hutchison, J. S. (2015). Anti-oppressive practice and reflexive lifeworld-led approaches to care: a framework for teaching nurses about social justice. Nursing research and practice, 2015.
Introduction to Anti-Oppressive Practice: Challenges for Social Work | Critical Social Work - University of Windsor. (2018). Retrieved 30 March 2018, from
Miley, K. K., O'Melia, M. W., & DuBois, B. L. (2016). Generalist social work practice: An empowering approach. Pearson.
Mullaly, R. P., & West, J. (2018). Challenging Oppression and Confronting Privilege: A Critical Approach to Anti-oppressive and Anti-privilege Theory and Practice. Oxford University Press.
Miley, K. K., O'Melia, M. W., & DuBois, B. L. (2016). Generalist social work practice: An empowering approach. Pearson.
(2018). Retrieved 30 March 2018, from


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