Working with Men



For too long, men have been absent partners within social work relationships. Although men have formed the major ‘client’ group in some areas of practice such as working with offenders, social workers engaging with men in family-based interventions have been the exception rather than the rule (O’Hagan and Dillenburger, 1995). As Wilson (1977) has pointed out, women usually act as intermediaries between officialdom and their families. Practitioners’ reluctance to involve men in their family-focused work has been evident on both sides of the gender divide. Social workers, the majority of whom have been women, have worried about their ability to deal with the men inhabiting the lives of women ‘clients’, particularly if they have been violent or abusive. Others have believed that men have little interest in dealing with the problems that women and children endure, so that there is little point in wasting time and resources working with them. The absent father or husband was just that, the absent father or husband. Men who have felt their authority challenged through statutory interventions have not been averse to being ignored by professionals who hold formal power over them.


Social Work Child Sexual Abuse Gender Relation Hegemonic Masculinity Absent Father 
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© Lena Dominelli 2002

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