Reshaping Political Ideology in Social Work: A Critical Perspective

Filipe Duarte*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: The article contends that social work is politically constructed, that its values, principles and commitments are deeply shaped by ideology through the political dimension at all levels of social work intervention, and that social work needs not only to embrace, but also to reshape its political ideology, discourse and political movements.

APPROACH: It is argued that the articulation of social work values and principles are an expression of ideology, and that political ontology of social workers’ lives precedes their epistemological and methodological choices. From this premise, the article claims that socialism informs progressive social work values, and that a materialist analysis can influence our understanding of social problems and social relations within deregulated capitalist societies.

CONCLUSIONS: Firstly, this article synthesises the Marxist approach of ideology and its relations with ideology in social work. Secondly, it draws out the key insights about the so-called “radical” or “structural” perspective in social work, and the commitments and challenges of its advocates. Finally, it explores and proposes insights on the political ideology of social work for the 21st century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-44
JournalAotearoa New Zealand Social Work
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2017


  • Social Work
  • Ideology
  • Ontology
  • Radical Social Work
  • Socialism


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