Oppression within society continues unabated, with novel forms of social pathology attenuating life opportunities, social freedoms and the attainment of the ‘good life’. Building on Honneth’s earlier ‘recognition thesis’, this article critically examines his later articulation of four such pathologies: invisibilisation, instrumental rationalisation, reification and organised self-realisation. The impact of these pathologies on social actors, through instances of misrecognition, is examined as a prelude to considering their influence on social work practice. A critical incident framework is then delineated in order to heighten social workers’ awareness of these areas, and how they impinge on service users. It is argued that this framework can engender a socially intelligent, anti-oppressive alertness and response to contemporary forms of misrecognition and injustice in social life.