Social Work and Advanced Marginality

  • Ian CumminsEmail author


This chapter examines social work practice in the context of advanced marginality. It argues that the increasing inequality and polarization of modern urban societies that is outlined in the other chapters of this book has had a direct impact on the role of social workers. It argues that the changes and processes examined in the other contributions have resulted in an environment where social work has an increasingly disciplinary role. The impact of neoliberal welfare retrenchment compounded by austerity is that social work practice is increasingly experienced by service users as negative or punitive interventions in their lives. This is so despite the profession’s clear ethical stance being one that is committed to empowerment.


  1. Alexander, M. (2012). The new Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. New York, NY: New Press.Google Scholar
  2. Barnes, M., & Prior, D. (2009). Examining the idea of ‘subversion’ in public services. In M. Barnes & D. Prior (Eds.), Subversive citizens: Power, agency and resistance in public services (pp. 3–16). Bristol: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bauman, Z. (2000). Special essay. Am I my brother’s keeper? European Journal of Social Work, 3(1), 5–11.Google Scholar
  4. Beatty, C., & Fothergill, S. (2016). The uneven impact of welfare reform: The financial losses to places and people. Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University.Google Scholar
  5. Bernard, C. (2017). An exploration of how social workers engage neglectful parents from affluent backgrounds in the child protection system. Retrieved May 31, 2018, from
  6. Bilson, A., & Martin, K. E. (2016). Referrals and child protection in England: One in five children referred to children’s services and one in nineteen investigated before the age of five. The British Journal of Social Work, 47(3), 793–811.Google Scholar
  7. Blyth, M. (2013). Austerity: History of a dangerous idea. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Booth, W. (1890). In darkest England and the way out. London: International Headquarters of the Salvation Army.Google Scholar
  9. Bourdieu, P. (1998). The left hand and the right hand of the state. In P. Bourdieu (Ed.), Acts of resistance (pp. 1–10). London: New Press.Google Scholar
  10. Bourdieu, P., et al. (1999). The weight of the world: Social suffering in contemporary society. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  11. Butler, I., & Drakeford, M. (2006). Scandal, social work and social welfare. Bristol: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  12. Bywaters, P. (2015). Inequalities in child welfare: Towards a new policy, research and action agenda. British Journal of Social Work, 45(1), 6–23.Google Scholar
  13. Bywaters, P., Brady, G., Sparks, T., & Bos, E. (2014). Child welfare inequalities: New evidence, further questions. Child & Family Social Work, 21, 369–380.Google Scholar
  14. Cameron, D. (2010). Prime Minister’s speech on the economy. Retrieved May 31, 2018, from
  15. Carey, J. (2012). The intellectuals and the masses: Pride and prejudice among the literary intelligentsia 1880–1939. London: Faber & Faber.Google Scholar
  16. Caspi, A., Houts, R. M., Belsky, D. W., Harrington, H., Hogan, S., Ramrakha, S., et al. (2016). Childhood forecasting of a small segment of the population with large economic burden. Nature, Human Behaviour, 1, 0005.Google Scholar
  17. Clear, T. (2009). Imprisoning communities: How mass incarceration makes disadvantaged neighborhoods worse. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Crawford, R. (2010, June 23). Public services: Serious cuts to come. Emergency budget June 2010 briefing (p. 9). London: Institute for Fiscal Studies. Retrieved May 31, 2018, from
  19. Crossley, S. (2017). In their place: The imagined geographies of poverty. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  20. Cummins, I. (2017). Social work and the penal state. European Journal of Social Work, 20(1), 54–63.Google Scholar
  21. Cummins, I. (2018a). Poverty, inequality and social work. Bristol: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  22. Cummins, I. (2018b). Mental health social work reimagined. Bristol: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  23. Donzelot, J. (1979). The policing of families. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University.Google Scholar
  24. Dorling, D., Rigby, J., Wheeler, B., Ballas, D., Thomas, B., Fahmy, E., Gordon, D., & Lupton, R. (2007). Poverty, wealth and place in Britain, 1968 to 2005. Bristol: Policy Press for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.Google Scholar
  25. Drucker, E. (2011). A plagues of prisons: The epidemiology of mass incarceration in America. New York: New Press.Google Scholar
  26. Dunt, I. (2016). Brexit: What the hell happens now? Tonbridge: Canbury Press.Google Scholar
  27. Emejulu, A., & Bassel, L. (2015). Minority women, austerity and activism. Race & Class, 57(2), 86–95.Google Scholar
  28. Emirbayer, M., & Williams, E. M. (2005). Bourdieu and social work. Social Service Review, 79(4), 689–724.Google Scholar
  29. Esping-Andersen, G. (1999). Social foundations of postindustrial economies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Featherstone, B., Morris, K., & White, S. (2014). Re-imagining child protection: Towards humane social work with families. Bristol Policy Press.Google Scholar
  31. Fenton, J. (2014). Can social work education meet the neoliberal challenge head on? Critical and Radical Social Work, 2(3), 321–355.Google Scholar
  32. Flint, J. (2018). Encounters with the centaur state: Advanced urban marginality and the practices and ethics of welfare sanctions regimes. Urban Studies, 56, 249–265. Retrieved from Scholar
  33. Friedman, S., & Savage, M. (2017). The shifting politics of inequality and the class ceiling. Renewal: A Journal of Labour Politics, 25(2), 31.Google Scholar
  34. Gallie, D., & Paugan, S. (2000). Welfare regimes and the experience of unemployment in Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Garrett, P. M. (2007). Making social work more Bourdieusian: Why the social professions should critically engage with the work of Pierre Bourdieu. European Journal of Social Work, 10(2), 225–243.Google Scholar
  36. Garrett, P. (2017). Welfare words: Critical social work & social policy. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  37. Giroux, H. (2011). Neoliberalism and the death of the social state: Remembering Walter Benjamin’s Angel of History. Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture, 17(4), 587–601.Google Scholar
  38. Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identities. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  39. Gottschalk, M. (2006). The prison and the gallows: The politics of mass incarceration in America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Gupta, A. (2015). Poverty and shame–messages for social work. Critical and Radical Social Work, 3(1), 131–139.Google Scholar
  41. Haney-Lopez, I. (2015). Dog whistle politics: How coded racial appeals have reinvented racism and wrecked the middle class. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Hayes, D., & Spratt, T. (2014). Child welfare as child protection then and now: What social workers did and continue to do. British Journal of Social Work, 44, 615–635.Google Scholar
  43. Howe, D. (2013). The compleat social worker. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  44. Jensen, T. (2013). Riots, restraint and the new cultural politics of wanting. Sociological Research Online, 18(4), 1–12.Google Scholar
  45. Jensen, T., & Tyler, I. (2015). “Benefits broods”: The cultural and political crafting of anti-welfare common sense. Critical Social Policy, 35(4), 1–22.Google Scholar
  46. Jones, R. (2010). The story of Baby P: Setting the record straight. Bristol: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  47. Krugman, P. (2015). The austerity delusion. Retrieved May 31, 2018, from
  48. Link, B., & Phelan, J. (2001). Conceptualizing stigma. Annual Review of Sociology, 27, 363–385.Google Scholar
  49. Lipsky, M. (1980). Street level bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the individual in public services. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  50. Mead, L. (1992). The new politics of poverty: The nonworking poor in America. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  51. Morriss, L. (2016a). AMHP work: Dirty or prestigious? Dirty work designations and the Approved Mental Health Professional. British Journal of Social Work, 46(3), 703–718.Google Scholar
  52. Morriss, L. (2016b). Being seconded to a Mental Health Trust: The (in)visibility of mental health social work. British Journal of Social Work, 47, 1344–1360.Google Scholar
  53. Munro, E. (2010). The Munro review of child protection interim report: The child’s journey (Policy Briefing No. 11). tri.x. Retrieved May 31, 2018, from
  54. Murray, C. A. (1990). The emerging British underclass (choice in welfare). London: Institute of Economic Affairs.Google Scholar
  55. Nozick, R. (1974). Anarchy, state and utopia. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  56. Oxfam. (2013). The true cost of austerity and inequality a UK case study. Retrieved May 31, 2018, from
  57. Parton, N. (2012). The Munro review of child protection: Appraisal. Children and Society, 26(2), 150–162.Google Scholar
  58. Parton, N. (2014). The politics of child protection: Contemporary developments and future directions. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  59. Peck, J., & Theodore, N. (2010). Recombinant workfare, across the Americas: Transnationalizing “fast” social policy. Geoforum, 41(2), 195–208.Google Scholar
  60. Perkins, A. (2016). The welfare trait: Hans Eysenck, personality and social issues. Personality and Individual Differences, 1, 172–178.Google Scholar
  61. Piven, F. F., & Cloward, R. A. (1977). Poor people’s movements. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  62. Raco, M. (2013). Neoliberal urban policy, aspirational citizenship and the uses of cultural distinction. In T. Tasan-Kok & G. Baeten (Eds.), Contradictions of neoliberal planning: Cities, policies and politics (pp. 43–59). London: Springer.Google Scholar
  63. Sampson, R. J. (2012). Great American city: Chicago and the enduring neighborhood effect. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  64. Sayer, A. (2015). Why we can’t afford the rich. Bristol: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  65. Shildrick, T., & MacDonald, R. (2013). Poverty talk: How people experiencing poverty deny their poverty and why they blame “the poor”. The Sociological Review, 61(2), 285–303.Google Scholar
  66. Shoesmith, S. (2015). Learning from Baby P. London: Jessica Knightley.Google Scholar
  67. Simon, J. (2014). Mass incarceration on trial: A remarkable court decision and the future of prisons in America. New York: New Press.Google Scholar
  68. Slater, T. (2012). The myth of “broken Britain”: Welfare reform and the production of ignorance. Antipode, 46, 1–22.Google Scholar
  69. Slater, T. (2018). The invention of the ‘sink estate’: Consequential categorization and the UK housing crisis. In I. Tyler & T. Slater (Eds.), The sociology of stigma. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  70. Solomos, J. (2014). Stuart Hall: Articulations of race, class and identity. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 37(10), 1667–1675.Google Scholar
  71. Timmins, N. (2017). The five giants [new edition]: A biography of the welfare state. London: HarperCollins UK.Google Scholar
  72. Tyler, I. (2008). Chav mum, chav scum: Class disgust in contemporary Britain. Feminist Media Studies, 8(1), 17–34.Google Scholar
  73. Tyler, I. (2018). Resituating Goffman: From stigma power to black power. In I. Tyler & T. Slater (Eds.), The sociology of stigma. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  74. Wacquant, L. (2007). Territorial stigmatization in the age of advanced marginality. Thesis Eleven, 91(1), 66–77.Google Scholar
  75. Wacquant, L. (2008a). Ghettos and anti-ghettos: An anatomy of the new urban poverty. Thesis Eleven, 94, 113–118.Google Scholar
  76. Wacquant, L. (2008b). Urban outcasts: A comparative sociology of advanced marginality. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  77. Wacquant, L. (2009a). Prisons of poverty. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  78. Wacquant, L. (2009b). Punishing the poor: The neoliberal government of social insecurity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  79. Wacquant, L. (2010). Class, race and hyperincarceration in revanchist America. Daedalus, 139(3), 74–90.Google Scholar
  80. Wacquant, L. (2012). Three steps to a historical anthropology of actually existing neoliberalism. Social Anthropology, 20(1), 66–79.Google Scholar
  81. Wacquant, L. (2013). The wedding of workfare and prisonfare in the 21st century: Responses to critics and commentators. In P. Squires & J. Lea (Eds.), Criminalisation and advanced marginality: Critically exploring the work of Loic Wacquant (pp. 243–258). Bristol: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  82. Wacquant, L. (2016). Revisiting territories of relegation: Class, ethnicity and state in the making of advanced marginality. Urban Studies, 53(6), 1077–1088.Google Scholar
  83. Walker, P. (2017, February 2). More than 350 Sure Start children’s centres have closed since 2010. The Guardian. Retrieved May 31, 2017, from
  84. Warner, J. (2013). Social work, class politics and risk in the moral panic over Baby P. Health, Risk & Society, 15(3), 217–233.Google Scholar
  85. Warner, J. (2015). The emotional politics of social work and child protection, case of human rights. Bristol: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  86. Webb, S. A. (2006). Social work in a risk society: Social and political perspectives. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  87. Webb, S. (2010). (Re)Assembling the left: The politics of redistribution and recognition in social work. British Journal of Social Work, 40, 2364–2379.Google Scholar
  88. Welshman, J. (2012). Underclass: A history of the excluded since 1880. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  89. White, S. (2009). Fabled uncertainty in social work: A coda to Spafford et al. Journal of Social Work, 9(2), 222–235.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Health and Society, University of SalfordSalfordUK

Personalised recommendations