Reflecting on Habitus, Field and Capital: Towards a Culturally Sensitive Social Work

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Abstract

Summary: This article argues that the notion of the knowledge base as a central aspect of professional activity is flawed, and that it is more useful to see social work as in a continuous process of constructing and reconstructing professional knowledge. Findings: Culture is an area that has attracted widespread attention in academia and the social professions. However, there has been little examination of culturally sensitive social work practice from a realist perspective, or one that starts from the view that oppressive structures, as encoded within social class, are essential determinants of cultural experience. Following a critique of postmodern perspectives on culture, the work of Pierre Bourdieu on culture and power is explored. Applications: Three of Bourdieu's key constructs - habitus, field and capital - are utilized to develop a model for culturally sensitive social work practice that attends to the interplay of agency and structure in reproducing inequalities within the social world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-167
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Social Work
Volume2(2)
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2002

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