Book Details

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    • November 2011
    • 9780231152464
  • 368 Pages
  • Hardcover
  • $55.00
  • / £38.00


    • November 2011
    • 9780231530309
  • 368 Pages
  • E-book
  • $54.99
  • / £38.00

Social Construction and Social Work Practice

Interpretations and Innovations

Edited by Stanley Witkin

Social construction addresses the cultural factors and social dynamics that give rise to and maintain values and beliefs. Drawing on postmodern philosophies and critical, social, and literary theories, social construction has become an important and influential framework for practice and research within social work and related fields. Embracing inclusivity and multiplicity, social construction provides a framework for knowledge and practice that is particularly congruent with social work values and aims.

In this accessible collection, Stanley L Witkin showcases the innovative ways in which social construction may be understood and expressed in practice. He calls on experienced practitioner-scholars to share their personal accounts of interpreting and applying social constructionist ideas in different settings (such as child welfare agencies, schools, and the courts) and with diverse clientele (such as "resistant" adolescents, disadvantaged families, indigenous populations, teachers, children in protective custody, refugee youth, and adult perpetrators of sexual crimes against children). Eschewing the prescriptive stance of most theoretical frameworks, social construction can seem challenging for students and practitioners. This book responds with rich, illustrative descriptions of how social constructionist thinking has inspired practice approaches, illuminating the diversity and creative potential of practices that draw on social constructionist ideas.

Writing in a direct, accessible style, contributors translate complex concepts into the language of daily encounter and care, and through a committed transnational focus they demonstrate the global reach and utility of their work. Chapters are provocative and thoughtful, reveal great suffering and courage, share inspiring stories of strength and renewal, and acknowledge the challenges of an approach that complicates evidence-based evaluations and requirements.

About the Author

Stanley L Witkin is a professor in the Department of Social Work at the University of Vermont and president of the Global Partnership for Transformative Social Work ( He is the former editor-in-chief of Social Work and a Fulbright scholar. Professor Witkin holds MSSW. and Ph.D. degrees in social welfare from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and an honorary doctoral degree in social sciences from the University of Lapland in Finland.

A work to be celebrated—an exciting feast of challenging, passionate, and informative contributions to social work practice. Here we move away from the traditional regimentation of relationship—along with its categories, testing, and measurements—to working pragmatically and resourcefully with clients in context. These offerings illuminate and expand upon the rich potentials of a constructionist orientation to relating effectively with challenges to change. I am deeply impressed.

Kenneth J. Gergen, president, The Taos Institute

This book provides a solid overview of social constructionism and social work, both as academic traditions and as professional practices. It also invites the reader to share, debate, and argue with these dedicated authors and their insights. The book demonstrates in the very way it has been written that social work from the point of view of social constructionism is about people in relations. Everyone interested in social work should have the privilege to share in the stories this book has to tell.

Tarja Pösö, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tampere

From the first words of Chapter 1, "Humans cannot live alone," this book reflects how all of our understanding springs from our relationship experiences. This readable, appealing book has important insights for everyone in the human services. Students and practitioners will find it revitalizing: examples from practice are experience-near and bound to provoke new ideas about how to be more helpful to clients. For faculty, the book is a treasure-trove helping students develop their critical thinking and presenting innovative ideas, especially in the substantive areas of practice and research. A very important component is the volume's global reach. The future of social work is international, and this book reaches right into that future and helps bring it about with fidelity to the most innovative and original concepts of contemporary social work. This volume will help readers generate creative and original insights for many years to come!

Katherine Tyson McCrea, Ph.D., professor, Loyola University of Chicago School of Social Work, editor in chief of Illinois Child Welfare, and clinical social worker

As a teacher, I strongly recommend the book

Joe Smeeton

Social Construction and Social Work Practice is more than a social work textbook. It is a resource tool that will enrich and support the practitioner in their practice within any setting.

Christine Harris

Written in a style which is both scholarly and accessible, both professional and personal, it should be of value to students, practicioners, and educators.

Carol R. Swenson

Foreword, by W. David HarrisonPreface1. Autoethnography: The Opening Act, by Stanley L Witkin2. Where's Beebee? The Orphan Crisis in Global Child Welfare, by Katherine Tyson McCrea3. A Finn in India: From Cultural Encounters to Global Imagining, by Satu Ranta-Tyrkkö4. Being of Two Minds: Creating My Racialized Selves, by Noriko Ishibashi Martinez5. Learning From and Researching (My Own) Experience: A Critical Reflection on the Experience of Social Difference, by Jan Fook6. What Remains? Heroic Stories in Trace Materials, by Karen M. Staller7. What Matters Most in Living and Dying: Pressing Through Detection, Trying to Connect, by Brenda Solomon8. Will You Be with Me to the End? Personal Experiences of Cancer and Death, by Johanna Hefel9. Holding on While Letting Go: An Autoethnographic Study of Divorce in Ireland, by Orlagh Farrell Delaney and Patricia Kennedy10. The Pretty Girl in the Mirror: A Gender Transient's Tale, by Allan Irving11. Reality Isn't What It Used to Be: An Inquiry of Transformative Change, by Stanley L Witkin12. From Advising to Mentoring to Becoming Colleagues: An Autoethnography of a Growing Professional Relationship in Social Work Education, by Zvi Eisikovits and Chaya KorenList of ContributorsIndex

Read an excerpt from the chapter >Mostly We Played with Whatever She Chose, by Deborah R. Major.