Considering Nancy Fraser's Notion of Social Justice for Social Work: Reflections on Misframing and the Lives of Refugees in South Africa

Ethics and Social Welfare (1):1-19 (2012)
This article explores the implications of cross-border migration for social work's normative commitment to social justice. Specifically, it interrogates Nancy Fraser's conceptualisation of social justice in guiding social work practice with refugees. The paper is grounded in an ethnographic study conducted from 2008 to 2009 in a South African church which had provided shelter to a group of refugees following their displacement by an outbreak of xenophobic violence. The study's findings reveal that various kinds of misframing created multiple forms of voicelessness amongst its foreign participants. These filtered out to justify, perpetuate and deepen other types of injustice, particularly misrecognition and maldistribution. There was some evidence of resistance, solidarity, recognition and small acts of redistribution. However, such positive practices proved difficult to sustain. The paper confirms the central importance of the notion of misframing for conceptualising and responding to social injustice in the absence of citizenship?as required of practitioners in the field of social work with refugees and indeed other groups rendered vulnerable within current economic, social, political and cultural constellations. In this regard, Fraser's contribution looks set to enrich social work's commitment to social justice both in normative and practical terms
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DOI 10.1080/17496535.2012.744845
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Amartya Sen (2009). The Idea of Justice. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

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Simon Thompson (2005). Is Redistribution a Form of Recognition? Comments on the Fraser–Honneth Debate. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 8 (1):85-102.

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