Post-critical social work?

Grimwood, Tom ORCID logo ORCID: (2023) Post-critical social work? Social Work and Society, 21 (1).

[thumbnail of Grimwood_PostCriticalSocial.pdf]
PDF - Published Version
Available under License CC BY-NC

Download (368kB) | Preview
Official URL:


Social workers and students are constantly reminded to employ critical thinking to navigate this world through their practise. But given how many of these challenges pose significant problems for the theories that social work has traditionally drawn upon, should we now be critical of critical thinking – its assumptions, its basis, and its aspirations – itself? This paper explores this question by considering the rise of ‘post-critique’ across the social sciences and humanities in the last thirty years, and how they might problematize what I call, following Peter Sloterdijk, the atmospherics of critical thinking that dominate social work education. It explores the conditions of this atmosphere through, first, a narrative of the rise of criticality in social care education and provision (linked to factors such as the requirements for degree-level qualifications, part of the move towards ‘evidence-based’ and/or ‘reflective’ practice, and increasing scrutiny on social work methods). Second, a broader narrative concerns the rise of highly public suspicion in the value of evidence, facts and criticality that fuel concerns over ‘post-truth’ and its enabling of ‘post-liberal’ societies. The paper explores how the ‘post-critical turn’ in theory sits in relation to both of these narratives, outlining the concerns that critical thinking has become, in Sloterdijk’s words, a ‘series of rigged moves’ which do little to effect actual change. Finally, the chapter returns to the question of social work practice, and what the implications are for these arguments to social workers and service users.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Social Work and Society
Publisher: University of Bielefeld, Germany
ISSN: 1613-8953
Departments: Health and Society Knowledge Exchange (HASKE)
Institute of Health > Social Work, Children and Families
Centre for Research in Health and Society (CRIHS)
Depositing User: Tom Grimwood
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2023 11:50
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2024 11:08


Downloads per month over past year

Downloads each year

Edit Item