The Start of Feminist Social Work Intervention: a Feminist Approach to Defining Social Problems
A key feature of the women’s movement has been the way in which work on defining and redefining social problems has led to the development of a whole range of initiatives which have focused on the specific welfare needs of women, for example the Women’s Aid Network, rape crisis centres, well-women clinics, and so on. Such work resulted in putting gender oppression on the map of social problems, exposing its detrimental effect on the welfare of women, children and men and equalising some of the power relations embedded in work on defining what constitutes a social problem. In this way a feminist approach to defining social problems forms a crucial element of a feminist social work. Most of this work to date has occurred predominantly outside professional social work, that is salaried community work or statutory social work undertaken primarily in social services and probation departments. Instead, it has originated in self-help initiatives which have subsequently attracted funding and paid workers. However, their work may have proved influential in terms of reorienting professional social work (see McLeod, 1982).
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