Potentiality, Development Ideals, and Realities of Social Work

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The article illustrates how existing policies and new technologies in the social work with people with functional handicaps are based on new forms of potentialization which fundamentally change the view of humans, social problems, and social work. Social work and management is no longer seen as a question of providing stability in a changeable world, or in the lives of people who are vulnerable and exposed . Today the problem is the inherent tendency to provide too much stability, habitual behavior and inertia. My argument is that the vision of potentialization is currently expressing itself through a series of concepts in social work. The vision of potentialization is in part 1: an organizational and management tool, a management technological vision that is expressed in the political plans, in diagnostic tools, in referrals and that is implemented in social work with the citizens, and 2: a notion of what the citizen’s problem is, ontologically speaking, and how the problem and the condition can be altered. Temporal, dynamic, in-determinate aspects of human and social problems are given priority at the expense of factual, substantial aspects of social, societal and human conditions. Potentialization is defined by others as “the effort to continually transgress existing realities and perhaps even potential ones” (Costea et al, 2012; Staunæs, 2011). With the effort to transgress existing realities social workers and people with severe illnesses are expected to ignore the present problem through a focus on “the healthy part”, resources, empowerment, and the will to imagine “the future of the future” and “the desirable present of the present” (Andersen & Poors, 2016). The aspiration to abolish previous understandings of welfare as they have developed in Denmark over the past 40-50 years is central to this development. But what is the news in relation to social work? In the article I approach this question by showing 1: how potentionalization influences the perception as well as the concrete distribution of social problems. 2: how potentionalization influences the concrete practices of welfare services and welfare professionals in the encounter with citizens
Translated title of the contributionPotetialitet, udviklingsidealer og realiteter i Socialt Arbejde
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Welfare Responses in a Neoliberal Era : Policies, Practices and Social Problems
EditorsMia Arp Fallov, Cory Blad
Number of pages21
Place of PublicationLeiden
Publication date2018
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-04-38411-8
Publication statusPublished - 2018
SeriesStudies in Critical Social Sciences

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