Enabling Others in Social Work: Reflexivity and the Theory of Social Domains

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This paper sets out a framework to structure reflexivity in social work practice. Based on the thinking of the sociologist, Derek Layder, it comprises five domains that impact on the individual and social life, namely: (i) psycho-biography – referring to a person’s unique experience throughout the life-course; (ii) situated activity – highlighting the impact of every day social interaction; (iii) social settings – addressing the role of organizations in social life; (iv) culture – covering the influence of attitudes, beliefs, tastes and ideas on symbolic meaning; and (v) politico-economy – alluding to the ramifications of political and economic forces on people’s lives. It is contended that power circulates throughout each domain as an enabling and constraining force. The paper then outlines a process for using the reflexive framework in ‘enabling’ activities such as practice learning, supervision, mentoring and coaching. By applying the framework in these contexts, it is argued that social workers can reflect critically on their role and develop emancipatory forms of practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-260
Number of pages16
JournalCritical and Radical Social Work
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015

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