Doing social work has been characterized as a contradiction: The same institutions that employ social workers are also the ones that contribute to the problems they are hired to address. Others (e.g., Foucault) have also argued that social workers are used by those in power to placate or domesticate the “dangerous classes” subjecting them to normalizing practices and sanctioning them for inappropriate behavior. These functions occur interpersonally and in policy and research. Is there a way out of this? Is the very idea of social work an expression of these functions? Could the profession transform itself to engender different social functions? What would it take to do so? If it could, would it still be social work? These are some of the questions this group will take up.

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