Social Work and Religious Privilege
Ant-oppression and ant-discrimination beliefs are not only eminent in modern social work research and practice, but are also far and wide engaged in social work curricula. From the core premises of an anti-oppressive paradigm, it is evident that, beginning as a fundamental new concept, AOP (anti-oppressive social work practice) has ever since advanced and found way into social work practice, research and even education. While social work practice and education rarely challenges people to appraise the impact of privileges on their professional associations and the affiliated oppression systems marginalizing diverse groups they work with, it is imperative to note that acknowledging these impacts increases people’s aptitude to avow their humanity and even that of the community they are serving (Hogewoning, 2012). Subtly, even though AOP presents a crucial model towards identification and maintenance of client relations empowerment in the milieu of existing society and practice oppression, some religious social workers may feel that this approach may not be espoused in line with faith values due to its postmodern nature. As incongruous and may be throbbing it is to confess, social work is to a great extent correlated with oppression as it deals with human relationships that are out of order. In this respect, relations in all facets integrate exclusion and oppression constituents that arise from aberrant identities; thus, forcing religious social workers to stomach the responsibility of examining oppression nature in personal and professional associations. Therefore, as demonstrated in this essay, there are considerable ways through which social workers can subvert religious privilege alongside xenophobia in their micro and macro levels of practice.
Typically, social workers aim at seeking to work through values and ethics that endorse social justice alongside respect for other people’s dignity (Case et al, 2012). Likewise, Christians, for instance, aim at fulfilling God’s commandments. Therefore, these two inclinations deduce the question, how Christian social workers fuse religious mandates and those of their line of work. Fortunately, scholars have affirmed that as a principal social work model responding to the oppression reality in practice, AOP lines up with a Social Trinitarian model so as to offer important insights for unbiased relationships in all forms of social work practice (Hogewoning, 2012). Through an examination of the oppression’s nature, the anti-oppression model and the Social Trinitarian scopes, it has been observed that the themes of Trinitarian consent to AOP systems that can be adopted by Christian social workers to amplify empowering relations between the practitioners and the clients.
As a consequence, one of the most significant concerns for social workers is exclusion, an aspect that in due course stems from oppression. While exploring the relationship between exclusion and social justice, different theologians and scholars have argued that human beings exclude others through distinguishing themselves against formed and inferior identities of other individuals, after experiencing a professed threat to their own identities and lacking the capacity to uphold and avow a distinctive identity (Case et al, 2012). A good amplification is by considering condemnation where psychologists state that individuals who construct condemnation patterns often do that so as to improve their self-esteem since disparaging or blaming others makes the other person’s own persona look superior or better than theirs .
Another exclusion element and identity construction through which social workers can undermine religious privilege plus xenophobia in their practice, has been observed to be the way they evaluate their identities on the basis their conformity to the bigger societal expectations. Thus, exclusion takes place after people have either been accommodated or rejected by the society’s standards; for example, considering xenophobia against single mothers as a deviation from the conventional family setting (Hogewoning, 2012). In so doing, exclusion normally acts as a means of perpetuating the mothering process, confirming unequal social relations. Whilst identity may comprise of myriad cross-sections including aspects of age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, gender among many others, from a religious perspective, particularly Christianity, identity formation’s role in oppression remains universal as oppression conforms with a reformed view of the fallen man’s nature; in short, people experience and perpetuate identity formation (Case et al, 2012).
It can, thus; be agreed that oppression concept and exclusion highly concerns social workers as it opposes self-determination values and respect for individuals’ worth and dignity. Religious social workers are obliged to not only consider this aspect’s existence in the community, but also its existence in the social work practice. Accepting the fact that identity formation together with authority play significant roles in oppressive practice, social workers have to admit that their professional personalities are attached to authority, an incidence that may play an powerful and even at times unconscious part in causing oppression (Hogewoning, 2012).
Realizing the power linked to the social work practice may be a painful realization, particularly when in view of the manifold anti-oppressive ethics that aim at guiding its practice. For social workers identifying oneself as an oppressor may cause guilt and even paralysis feelings, more than ever, in instances where it is hard for the concerned person to disentangle himself/herself from privileged status. However, practitioners need to utilize the best practice methods in two-fold levels: first, they have to investigate to what extent their individual social status conforms to the dominant social status of the people holding power as per policy decisions alongside accepted societal norms (Hogewoning, 2012). Second, the practitioners have to explore to what degree they practice the so-termed as authoritative work. In its very nature as a helping profession, it is evident that social work has the power to be paternalistic; in other words, a social worker’s role is time and again helping or bestowing awareness on a susceptible client group. These workers are mandated to accept their roles as containing the ability to effect oppression in practice, mainly by homogenizing propensities among client groups, on top of treating clients with the anticipation of results that are ingrained in personal values embedded in the identity of the social worker. For instance, a social worker can unconsciously find himself/herself promoting a nuclear family model as the best result by supporting prescribed roles of gender around parenting and custody issues (Hogewoning, 2012). In this scenario, there may be evident contradiction between the social worker’s professional mandates and his/her religious inclinations that concern gender roles.
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- Dr. Mutinda Jackson (Autor), 2017, Social work and the role of religion, München, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/497646