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Welfare Words

Welfare Words
Critical Social Work & Social Policy

First Edition

October 2017 | 288 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
‘Systematically exposes the neoliberal myths in unequal societies’ - Niels Rosendal Jensen
'A call to arms to challenge inequality and social exclusion.' - Lel Meleyal
‘An impassioned dissection of the highly coded lexicon of so-called welfare reform…get reading, get angry, get ready’. - Gargi Bhattacharyya

Welfare Words analyses the keywords and phrases commonly used by policy-makers, news-outlets and wider society, when referring to social policy, welfare reform and social work in the present-day culture of neoliberal capitalism. Examining how power relations operate through language and culture, it encourages readers to question how welfare words fit within a wider economic and cultural context riven with gross social inequalities; to disrupt taken-for-granted meanings within mainstream social work and social policy, and to think more deeply, critically and politically about the incessant usage of specific words and phrases. Written by an authoritative voice in the field, Paul Michael Garrett makes sense of complex theories which codify everyday experience, giving readers vital tools to better understand and change their social worlds.
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: The Conceptual Lens
Chapter 3: Welfare Dependency
Chapter 4: Underclass
Chapter 5: Social Exclusion
Chapter 6: Early Intervention
Chapter 7: Resilience
Ch. 8: Care
Ch. 9: Adoption
Chapter 10: Conclusion

A must-read for critical social policy theorists but also for anyone alarmed at how neoliberal capitalism has stigmatized every aspect of social rightsGarrett’s lens of analysis of welfare keywords – dependency, underclass, social exclusion, resilience -  brings out sharply how neoliberal language stereotypes and marginalizes working class people and steers deep social problems into the woefully inadequate channels of individualism. Welfare Words, provides a timely counter-voice to the neoliberal policies which have devastated our post-austerity world. 

Marnie Holborow
Dublin City University

This is an original and insightful book, which offers us a fresh perspective on some of the key themes and challenges in social work. It will prompt new thinking and provide practitioners with important critical tools to support their interventions.

Roger S. Smith
University of Durham

Paul Garrett provides an illuminating analysis of key terms that proliferate within contemporary welfare and political discourse. He examines each term in detail, exploring the origins, meanings and contradictions of each and perceptively shows the way they are used, and misused, within today’s political and welfare system. This book is essential reading for those wishing to understand the complexities behind terms that are not only ubiquitous within the political realm but which have also entered common discourse.

Dr Ken McLaughlin
Manchester Metropolitan University

Garrett’s book offers a comprehensive approach to the study of Social policy in social work, encouraging readers to think critically about key words in their wider historical, political and cultural context. Drawing on an innovative conceptual lens in which to view social welfare, this is a key text for critical social work and social policy. 

Karen Roscoe
University of Wolverhampton

Paul Michael Garrett's new book provides valuable insights into the role of cultural and ideological forces in shaping a society's characterization of human needs and in developing policy responses to persistent social and economic issues. The book begins with an in-depth analysis of these forces and then applies its sophisticated conceptual framework to contemporary problems such as welfare dependency, social exclusion, and social care. In an era in which language, facts, and "truth" are increasingly distorted to rationalize regressive approaches to social welfare, the book provides readers with a clearer understanding of the origins and implications of anti-welfare perspectives and with an alternate lens to interpret contemporary social and political phenomena.

Michael Reisch
University of Maryland

Garrett invites scholars, students and professionals to think about the role of language in welfare decisions [and] he provides valid instruments to cultivate a new way of thinking about welfare issues, new modes of resistance and political approaches “in and beyond social work and policy”

Francesca Bragaglia
Urban Research & Practice

Although focused upon the UK as the site of analysis, this is a book that will be a really valuable resource for anyone teaching in schools, colleges and universities globally for the way it scrutinizes and problematizes a language of violence which has become normalized. It will particularly useful for those who teach young people without a memory of the struggles in defense of the welfare state as it once was, and who see the problems of the horribly unequal world we are living in but do not have the words and concepts to connect up the things happening around them. 

Stephen Cowden, Ruskin College

Garrett offers a comprehensive approach to studying social policy in social work and encourages readers to think critically about keywords in their broader historical, political, and cultural context. His politically engaged linguistic interventions help us think about how to take steps towards less oppressive and more positive forms of service provision….[It] can be recommended to readers because it is an original book, which seeks to understand the ideology underlying welfare words, and by doing so, exposes the power and oppression operating through them. The book highlights the power of language when it comes to social welfare and it will prompt new thinking.

Barbora Grundelová

Garrett urges social workers to think critically about the contradictions that confront them in contemporary political and welfare systems and to hold to the profession’s principles of intervention within an increasingly divided society; and acknowledge how neoliberal practices demonise social problems and intensify vulnerability and marginality.

An essential text for social workers seeking to understand the complexity of contemporary practice and the external forces that challenge its integrity. It is an essential addition to contemporary social work discourse.

Rosemary Sheehan
Department of Social Work, Monash University
Australian Social Work

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