Social Work and Disadvantage: Addressing the Roots of Stigma through Association

Social Work and Disadvantage: Addressing the Roots of Stigma through Association

Social Work and Disadvantage: Addressing the Roots of Stigma through Association

Social Work and Disadvantage: Addressing the Roots of Stigma through Association


This book is a guide to understanding the important issue of stigma ? ?disability by association? ? and how it affects not only those who find themselves excluded from society, whether through the public's perception of disability or mental illness, but also family members and friends. Social Work and Disadvantage explains the danger of stigmatization and its consequences for the individuals and for society as a whole. Contributors provide evidence from research and professional practice on transferability of health and social problems in, for example, dementia care patients, drug users, young offenders and looked after children. Providing key messages for practice, they outline a range of protection measures against ?disability by association? to reduce the risk of stigma and victimization. Social Work and Disadvantage provides valuable pointers for social work and health care practitioners, and for educators and students in the fields.


Peter Burke and Jonathan Parker

The book examines disadvantage as an associative condition in social work. The topic of disadvantage originally relatedto research by Burke and Montgomery (2003) which mainly concerned the siblings of disabled children, and led to the more detailed exposition in Brothers and Sisters of Disabled Children (Burke, 2004) in which the concept of disability by association is introduced. This text builds on the concept of 'disability by association' but broadens its grasp to reflect the sense of disadvantage experienced across a spectrum of client and user groups, and explores the potential for the positive requisition of association as a way of understanding and working with others.

In expanding this, we have drawn on the expertise of professional colleagues and, although this extends the original concept, it is not an exhaustive examination, but sufficient to reflect the transferability of the concept to other areas of academic interest, research and practice. In providing an examination of disadvantage, the areas we cover include childhood disability as an origination source, but we also explore in some detail the stigma of association in a much wider-ranging set of experiences. The text includes children in the looked after system, their families, drug users, HIV/AIDS, issues of sexuality for older people and age-related disabilities. In all these areas, the question of associated issues relating to an initiating condition is addressed.

The need for social workers to be highly skilled and knowledgeable about the consequences of practice is a basic imperative within the profession. Social work education has undergoneamajor transformation to ensure that qualified social workers understand the complexities of the human condition, and this is reflected by the requirements set by the Department of Health (2002). The changes are further stressed in the Assessment Framework utilised in child care, the developments heralded by Every Child Matters (Chief Secretary to the Treasurer, 2003), Valuing People (Department of . . .

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