Pandemic Possibilities: Confronting Neoliberalism in Social Work Education

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Social Work Education

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Over the last decade we have witnessed increasingly critical appraisals of neoliberalism among social work researchers, educators, and practitioners across the globe. There is growing awareness that neoliberal ideology and its manifestation in institutional arrangements constitute major barriers to social, political and economic justice. However, awareness and critique must always be accompanied by affirmative visions of transformation. We believe the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the political and cultural context in which it unfolds, makes this moment uniquely ripe for progressive change. Drawing on our varied and overlapping teaching experiences during the pandemic, we illustrate lessons this crisis has provided to move from critique to resistance. We focus specifically on two aspects of neoliberalism in social work education in the US: the pull towards individualization and depoliticization, and the embrace of competency-driven education. The pedagogical decisions we made while teaching during COVID-19 illuminate the vast options for resistance at our disposal. While these decisions and strategies arose solely because of the pandemic, their application is not limited to pandemic times. We argue the pandemic provides an impetus for a larger refocusing and recommitment to politicizing social work and foregrounding resistance in all we do.


© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group



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