Critical and Radical Social Work 7 (3): 333-348 (2019)

Phillip Ablett
University of the Sunshine Coast
Social work is a contested tradition, torn between the demands of social governance and autonomy. Today, this struggle is reflected in the division between the dominant, neoliberal agenda of service provision and the resistance offered by various critical perspectives employed by disparate groups of practitioners serving diverse communities. Critical social work challenges oppressive conditions and discourses, in addition to addressing their consequences in individuals’ lives. However, very few recent critical theorists informing critical social work have advocated revolution. A challenging exception can be found in the work of Cornelius Castoriadis (1922–97), whose explication of ontological underdetermination and creation evades the pitfalls of both structural determinism and post-structural relativism, enabling an understanding of society as the contested creation of collective imaginaries in action and a politics of radical transformation. On this basis, we argue that Castoriadis’s radical-democratic revisioning of revolutionary praxis can help in reimagining critical social work’s emancipatory potential.
Keywords Castoriadis  Indeterminacy  Social Work  Ontology  Creation  Autonomy  Imaginary  Critical Social Work  Radical Social Work  Revolution  Marxism
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Figures of the Thinkable.Cornelius Castoriadis - 2007 - Stanford University Press.

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