Anti Oppressive Theory In Social Work

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Social work practice has been altered, revised, and rewritten as society begins to acknowledge the acceptable oppressions and attempts to change the current circumstances. Every situation, when working with a service user, is different. Therefore, a plethora of theories, practices, and perspectives must be considered. There is not a definitive way to practice social work; multiple theories are considered per case to best accommodate the service user in the least distressing and oppressive way possible. A practice that has recently become popular in social work is anti-oppressive practice. This essay will examine the philosophies and ideas of anti-oppressive practice, how it is used in response to working with families, and describe a personal…show more content…
Anti-oppressive practice focuses on the structural inequalities and places the blame that service users internalize on the structures and systems themselves (Ajandi, 2018). Humanistic and social justice values and ideas shape anti-oppressive practice (Healy, 2015). They address inequalities that affect opportunities of service users, due to the interlocking of social relations and oppression (Burke & Harrison, 2002). AOP aims to identify oppressions and define ways in which social workers can attempt to become anti-oppressive, avoid discomfort, and end oppression to service users (Strega, 2007). It highlights mutual involvement between the social worker and the service user, challenging forms of oppression and inequalities (Burke & Harrison, 2002), and presents the idea that service users do not occupy a “single identity”, but instead have interlocking oppressions that work together to put clients at a social disadvantage (Strega, 2007). According to Ajandi, anti-oppressive practice does not believe in a hierarchy of oppression, where all oppressions are on a “level playing field of discrimination” (2018). AOP produces strategies to be used in social work practice to work alongside service user: critical reflection, critical assessment, empowerment, working in partnership with service users, and minimal…show more content…
Structuralism, as stated by Ajandi, examines inequities in power by revealing structures as the root of problems, rather than the individual (2018). Structuralism influences on AOP; it defines itself through structural power and its wrath of inequalities on those unlike the dominant group. AOP upholds the idea of relieving the sense of blame the individual holds and identifies their problems stem from the structures and systems put in place with the intent of discriminating against them. Anti-oppressive practice goes one step further with the concepts of structuralism by expressing the dire need for communication. According to Wilson & Beresford (2000), anti-oppressive practice promotes knowledge and expertise in each situation with every different service user, as no two situations require the exact same theories and practices. Anti-oppressive theory utilizes user involvement and participation to break down power relations between structures and individuals by: identifying the problem areas, following the five steps outlined in the practice, and presenting service users with tangible plans to immerse themselves in the society (Wilson & Beresford, 2000). Anti-oppressive practice recognizes the structuralist perspective
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