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Discuss the chief characteristics of anti-oppressive pattern and how societal workers could use anti-oppressive pattern in working with users from different cultural backgrounds.

Anti-oppressive pattern is one of the most debated attacks that societal workers use when working with users. In this paper I will sketch the chief characteristics of anti-oppressive pattern and how it could be applied when working with users from different cultural backgrounds. I will reason that there are many positive facets that anti-oppressive pattern can convey to this state of affairs, although there are besides some dangers. But with proper societal and racial consciousness from the societal worker, anti-oppressive pattern can be utilised to really good consequence, as it allows for a fluid relationship between the societal worker and user within a general model of battling oppressive societal constructions.

The nucleus of anti-oppressive pattern is suggested by its really name, as it is mostly an effort to authorise minority groups so they can get the better of structural subjugation. Dominelli ( 1996:170-171 ) provides us with a orderly definition, depicting anti-oppressive pattern as:

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a signifier of societal work pattern which addresses societal divisions and structural inequalities in the work that is done with people whether they be users ( ‘clients ‘ ) or workers. AOP aims to supply more appropriate and sensitive services by reacting to people ‘s demands regardless of their societal position. AOP embodies a individual centred doctrine ; an classless value system concerned with cut downing the hurtful effects of structural inequalities upon people ‘s lives ; a methodological analysis concentrating on both procedure and result ; and a manner of structuring relationships between persons that aims to authorise users by cut downing the negative effects of societal hierarchies on their interaction and the work they do together.

Dominelli continues by reasoning that anti-oppressive pattern is a holistic attack to societal work which takes into history how people live their lives in societal constructions. As opposed to the competence based attack, where users’ lives are broken down into a series of jobs to be dealt with, Dominelli argues that anti-oppressive pattern ‘seeks to do connexions between different facets of people’s lives.’ Rather than handling the societal workers and users as stray persons, with single jobs to be addressed, anti-oppressive pattern takes a broader stance by looking at the societal constructions which cause these jobs in the first topographic point. If this is non done, Dominelli argues, so all we can truly accomplish is a ‘tinkering at the border of subjugation, ’ instead than disputing its cardinal causes. As Pierson ( 2001:25 ) argues, anti-oppressive pattern sets out with the premiss that jobs are socially and politically created and non the consequence of single mistakes and mistakes. Social workers who use anti-oppressive pattern hence need to understand how subjugation is structured and institutionalised, whilst being sensitive to the fact that they themselves could worsen this subjugation when working with users. Users must hence be empowered instead than simply treated as victims, and should hold a dynamic relationship with the societal worker so that they have the ability to redefine themselves in a positive mode. The issue of which groups are oppressed and which are suppressing is non a straightforward one nevertheless. This is noted by Williams ( 1999:221 ) , who argues that there seems to be two laden groups involved here:

Although non needfully reciprocally sole, the former, that is the thought of class, is grounded in the nonsubjective facts of inequality based on structural analysis ; the latter, based on subjective experience, relates to societal constructionist thoughts. To specify ‘category ‘ , hence, is non ever to be mentioning to the same thing.

While certain groups of people suffer structural inequalities due to their societal place, others may experience laden due to their subjective experience of the universe, which, it must be remembered, is besides mostly the consequence of the societal building of thoughts and values. As Williams argues, the two groups are non reciprocally sole and will mostly correlate within the same people, but the ability to restructure individuality through altering societal thoughts and constructs is cardinal to anti-oppressive pattern. This is why Dominelli argues that handling users as persons with personal jobs will non undertake the wider societal building of these jobs. While societal constructions might take a long clip to alter and relieve subjugation, people’s subjective experience of the universe can be engaged with in order to open up possibilities of authorization and wider societal alteration. As Williams notes nevertheless, as this subjugation is mostly socially constructed, groups and individualities will stay unstable and invariably altering, therefore the inquiry of who is being oppressed demands to be continually posed. This is evidently a hard undertaking and one which is peculiarly hard to anti-oppressive pattern, as it seeks to press out the inequalities between different societal groups and hence demands to stay argus-eyed non to give more cogency to the claims of one group over another, or to homogenize the jobs of different societal groups under the streamer of ‘oppression’ , thereby disregarding the peculiar jobs that different societal groups might hold.

Anti-oppressive pattern can be applied by societal workers when working with users from different cultural backgrounds nevertheless, provided due attention and attending is paid to the above troubles. Dominelli ( 2001:62 ) argues that a cardinal danger when using anti-oppressive pattern in this state of affairs is a deficiency of racial consciousness from the societal worker. Because of its bulk place, the racial class of ‘whiteness’ is non frequently felt by the societal worker because racial classification is usually dispensed from the bulk group and on to the racial ‘other’ . [ 1 ] Structurally talking, racial inclinations are attributed to minority groups while ‘whiteness’ is non considered to be a racial place. Even though societal workers may non consciously think this manner, they must be cognizant of the larger societal constructions which construct and affect the ways in which people consider each other. This consciousness is critical for the societal worker when working with the user, because it will let the societal worker to understand the instability of power between them so that this does non acquire in the manner of positive advancement.

One of the chief concerns of anti-oppressive pattern is to renegociate the subjective classs and experience that the user has of themselves and society, so that authorization can take topographic point. As mentioned above, individuality is unstable and socially constructed so it is ever unfastened to dialogue, and this can let people organize different groups to positively redefine themselves in the face of subjugation. Preston-Shoot ( 1995:24 ) outlines how anti-oppressive pattern can accomplish this undertaking:

It begins with extricating internalised subjugation: countering the negative ratings people have experienced based on their rank of stigmatised groups … . This involves oppugning inactive credence and any personal incrimination, followed by enabling people to place with others and, through support groups and protagonism strategies, to understand procedures of subjugation, connect with their beginnings of power, and achieve rejection of their low-level place. It besides involves oppugning, and enabling others to oppugn, how difference has been perceived … and the behavior, linguistic communication and attitudes which have reinforced negative rating of difference.

The usage of linguistic communication is evidently an of import factor when using anti-oppressive pattern, as the importance of socially constructed significances when organizing individuality is clearly of great importance. As O’Brien and Penna ( 1998:59 ) note nevertheless, societal workers must be careful non to try to renegociate the individuality of the user in footings of their ain or bulk significances ; the user must be allowed an equal terms in using their ain significances to the state of affairs. Anti-oppressive pattern is instead equivocal in this state of affairs nevertheless, as Williams ( 1999:226-227 ) argues, because by underscoring the power of societal building in individuality and difference, and by seeking to take inequalities between different societal groups, there is the danger of enforcing a ‘neutral’ and universalising criterion to all groups, and hence non leting users to use their peculiar significances to their state of affairs. Williams contends that by grouping different capable places together under a general scheme of anti-oppression, the chance for minority groups to derive authorization through the support of their peculiar values and norms can be eradicated. Minority cultural groups, for illustration, can lose all political importance and feel alienated within a discourse of subjugation which lacks any peculiar and localized significance from which to construct a positive individuality. A societal worker using anti-oppressive pattern must therefore take attention non to homogenize their users’ issues but to work with them to build positive individualities which can tackle peculiar significances and thoughts.

Language, significance and power are hence of paramount importance to anti-oppressive pattern, and due attention and attending from societal workers can let for the positive development of their users’ subjective experience of themselves and their societal place. This in bend should lend towards the long term alteration of the societal constructions which result in the subjugation of certain minority groups. Anti-oppressive pattern is hence, merely as Dominelli argues above, a holistic attack to societal work which considers the whole of society to be cardinal in the formation of individuality and subjugation, and it is this that bit by bit needs to be changed. As anti-oppressive pattern is hence more of a formal attack, its application in peculiar cases is unfastened to some confusion and argument but besides to some flexibleness. This allows the societal worker and the user to develop an single relationship while leting the societal worker to invariably associate this relationship back into the general theory of anti-oppressive pattern. When working with users from different cultural backgrounds, the societal worker must understand the racial factors of the state of affairs, and work with the user to destabilize the negative effects of these and reenforce the positive points. Because anti-oppressive pattern allows the user to hold an equal input into proceedings, this feeling of authorization can besides hold a positive consequence in establishing alteration, while the societal worker can derive new penetrations and cognition which can be utilised when working with other users. As Dominelli ( 2002:69 ) argues, ‘Anti-oppressive pattern that is allowed to bloom in the work that is done with persons or groups is good placed to advance classless dealingss in and through societal work.’

While there clearly are jobs with anti-oppressive pattern, as highlighted above, its flexibleness in single state of affairss and broad attack to general societal constructions allows it to come on and accommodate to new state of affairss. [ 2 ] It is in this sense that O’Brien and Penna ( 1998:64 ) argue that, ‘‘anti’-oppression is exactly a battle within and against a multiplicity of divergent undertakings and programmes: it is ‘and-’ in substance every bit good as in form’ . Anti-oppressive pattern does non show itself as a ‘ready-made’ solution to a job, but as a scheme and general attack to authorising minorities and eliminating oppressive constructions which can integrate a broad scope of methods, developed by and through the societal worker and user.


Dalrymple, J. & A ; Burke, B. ( 1995 )Anti-Oppressive Practice: Social Care and the Law. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Dominelli, L. ( 1996 ) ‘Deprofessionalizing societal work: Anti-Oppressive pattern, competences and post-modernism’ inBritish Journal of Social Work,26: 153-175.

Dominelli, L. ( 1988 )Anti-Racist Social Work: A Challenge for White Practitioners and

Educators. Basingstoke: Macmillan.

Dominelli, L. ( 2002 ) ‘Changing dockets: Traveling beyond fixed individualities in anti-oppressive practice’ in Tomlinson, D. R. and Trew, W. ( explosive detection systems. )Equalizing Opportunities, Understating Oppression: A Critical Review of Anti-Discriminatory Policies in Health and Social Welfare. London: Routledge, pp 56-71.

Pierson, J. ( 2002 )Undertaking Social Exclusion.London and New York: Routledge.

O’Brien, M. and Penna, S. ( 1998 ) ‘Oppositional postmodern theory and public assistance analysis: Anti-oppressive pattern in a postmodern frame’ in Carter, J. ( erectile dysfunction )Postmodernity and the Fragmentation of Welfare.London and New York: Routledge, 1998, pp 49-66.

Preston-Shoot, M. ( 1995 ) ‘Assessing anti-oppressive practice’ inSocial Work Education, 14:2, pp 11-29.

Thompson, N. ( 1997 )Anti-Discriminatory Practice. London: Macmillan.

Williams, C. ( 1999 ) ‘Connecting anti-racist and anti-oppressive theory and pattern: Retrenchment or revaluation? ’ inBritish Journal of Social Work, 29: 211-230.


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