Dissertation review

…this research advances the field considerably in terms of our understanding of issues of responding to diversity, children’s participation and to understanding how knowledge cultures determine outcomes.”

Williams 2020

Updated

I was very pleased to read Professor Charlotte Williams’ review of my dissertation. Williams is a leading scholar in social work and she is internationally recognised for her research on ethnic diversity, multiculturalism, racism, and social justice issues in the context of welfare regimes and practices.

This post includes a few quotes from the dissertation review but those who have access to the journal’s articles can find and download the review here.

My work expands gender-based violence – the main issue of the project which my dissertation was part of – to include intersecting injustices and violations in childhoods, like racism. I am very happy to see that Williams addresses this in the review.

“Knezevic finds clear differences in child welfare responses related to intersectionalities in childhood experience. [. . .] neglected are these children’s account of wider forms of abuse such as within schools, playgrounds and neighbourhoods as a result of persistent banal racism. These knowers and this knowledge gets no traction in the assessment process.”

“Through the work, she seeks to place contemporary policy in a certain theoretical, ethical and historical legacy. She challenges the Swedish national sentiment of a ‘fair minded, equal and child friendly welfare state’ (32). She critically interrogates the equal treatment approach and its universalist, contractual and utilitarian aims, illustrating how this powerful national ideology of equality as sameness does an epistemic injustice to childhoods, undermining some children’s welfare.

Instead of focusing on the practitioners, whom I consider to be the main focus of much knowledge production on practice within the field, I tried to highlight other aspects and dimensions of practice, focusing more on childhoods and child service users/clients, the interlink between theory and practice in the field and, as Williams writes:

“… those who design and draft policy and those responsible for educating social workers towards a critical policy interpretation”.

“A well-rehearsed section of the thesis takes the reader through the notion of episteme, simply stated as what is understood as knowledge at any one time. For many this is a given but for the critical scholars the questions: who’s knowledge? How? What knowledges are subjugated? Why? become epistemological concerns.”

In my work, I am pointing out that reducing all issues to neoliberalism creates the impression that there were no issues before it. However, I agree with Williams that I could have discussed more about the impact of neoliberalism. In addition to writing more about the concept of moral economy, which Williams describes as “a novel exploration”, this review has inspired me to write a piece that explicitly interconnects biopolitics and neoliberalism. Coming up!

A book review is a much welcome knowledge dissemination, and I am deeply grateful for this. There is more to it, though. Being in many ways the opposite of the academic practices I problematise here, Williams’ review is an excellent and admirable (rare?) example of how a researcher, who writes about inclusion in her own research, incorporates inclusion as an academic practice (!) by reviewing less-recognised others.

It gives a sense of recognition to what, after all, has been about five years of work. This is particularly so when the review is written by a professor well known for her work for black and minority ethnic voices and social justice issues.

Source: Charlotte Williams (2020) Book review: Child (bio)welfare and beyond: intersecting injustices in childhoods and Swedish child welfare. Nordic Social Work Research, 10:4, 384-386. 

Examples of Williams works:

Williams, C. & Graham, M. J. (2016) Social Work in a Diverse Society: Transformative Practice with Black and Minority Ethnic Individuals and Communities Bristol: Policy Press.

Nipperess, S. & Williams, C. (2020) Critical Multicultural Practice in Social Work: New perspectives and practices. London/New York: Routledge.

See also the journal: Critical and Radical Social Work