Networks of power and counterpower in social work with children and families in England

Hanley, Joe (2021). Networks of power and counterpower in social work with children and families in England. Critical Social Policy (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/02610183211034727

Abstract

This article applies the work of Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells to contemporary children and families’ social work in England. Castells’ work suggests that the intractability of many of the issues facing the profession is the result of the new type of society that emerged around the turn of the millennium: the network society. Within this society, the interests and values of dominant networks are imposed upon those who are selectively excluded. Several challenges for the social work profession stemming from this analysis are posed, including in relation to challenging networks and promoting transparency. However, it is suggested that the most significant contribution Castells’ work has for social work lies in shifting the discussion from an analysis of dominant networks, as has been undertaken elsewhere, towards an understanding of how social workers can, and do, build networks of counterpower capable of effectively challenging dominant networks in the space they occupy.

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