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White noise: a critical evaluation of social work education's engagement with whiteness studies

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date06/2012
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Journal number4
Volume42
Number of pages18
Pages669-686
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Literature about whiteness and white identities has proliferated across the social sciences and humanities over recent years. However, there has so far been only a small amount of writing in social work, almost all concerned with social work education, which has attempted to make use of ideas developed in this body of literature. This paper summarises the major themes examined in the field of whiteness studies and discusses two broad critiques of approaches to the topic, concerned with the reification of whiteness and the reflexive focus of much work in this field. It then evaluates social work education's engagement so far with these concepts and finds that, while social work education literature has started to discuss whiteness, it has not so far considered critical approaches to whiteness studies and has not engaged with recent, more situated and nuanced work about whiteness, such as studies that are concerned with performativity. The paper makes some suggestions about how whiteness studies can be used in social work education to enable more complex understandings of race and power.