We Need to Broaden the Philosophical Landscape of Social Work


In this piece for Community Care, Anjum Shah argues that social work academics need to pay more attention to the work of the philosopher Frantz Fanon. Currently, social work philosophy is staunchly Eurocentric.

“Fanon was a philosopher, activist and humanist who wrote while deeply immersed in human suffering. A victim of racism, a WW2 veteran and active psychiatrist during the Algerian War of Independence, his work grapples with modernist thought, race, class and oppression, all dominant themes in traditional social work discourse.

Until now however, in social work knowledge, it is white thinkers that provide theory and black thinkers that provide experience for the former to explain.

More needs to be said to broaden the philosophical landscape of social work where research tends to focus on the utility of practice methods instead of theory. In an age of austerity the focus has shifted to ‘evidence-based practice’ and not enough time is being given to understanding what evidence is or the politics that underpin it.”