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THE CANADIAN SOCIAL WORK REVIEW: A REFLECTION OF CONTEMPORARY CANADIAN SOCIAL WORK

  • Jeanette Schmid et
  • Marie-Christine Bois

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Couverture de La suprématie de la blancheur en travail social. S’affirmer sans s’effacer, Volume 38, numéro 2, 2021, p. 5-223, Canadian Social Work Review / Revue canadienne de service social

Social work journals are a curated reflection and repository of contemporary issues, and thus provide a meaningful—though not necessarily comprehensive—indication of social work agendas. Marie-Christine Bois and Jeanette Schmid explored the social work discourses represented in the Canadian Social Work Review (CSWR) as the only formal bilingual (French–English) peer-reviewed social work journal in the country and the only journal prioritizing Canadian social work in particular. The journal was launched in 1974. As of 1982, when the journal adopted its current title, it aimed to publish articles relevant to “Canadian social work theory, practice, policy, administration and education” (Canadian Journal of Social Work Education, 1982, p. 3). In 2020, we reviewed the decade 2010–2019 (inclusive) to draw out implications regarding the journal’s scope and influence, and in particular, to identify the extent to which the journal articles represent a Canadian social work character. Only the articles selected for publication were analyzed. We utilized a critical social work lens (Fook, 2016), along with a social constructivist perspective, to pay attention to the voices in the journal and draw out essential themes regarding social work priorities. Marie-Christine is the managing editor of the CSWR and Jeanette, a member of the editorial board. We thus do not claim objectivity but did embark on this project as a means of assessing where the journal stands. We brought different perspectives to that research task, with each of us being at home in different linguistic and cultural contexts. We hope that our contrasting positionalities allowed for complementarity and further investigation of issues. In approaching the research task, we explored the literature, establishing that various regional constructs of social work have been articulated, particularly in recent years. These have occurred mostly as a means of resisting dominant Anglophone, Western, and Eurocentric social work. This body of knowledge identifies underlying assumptions and practice approaches for particular localities. Examples include work by Anderson (2015), Bennett et al. (2013), Furuto (2017), Patel (2018), Ravulo et al. (2019), Spitzer et al. (2014), Yadav (2019), and Yip (2013). There does not appear to be a specific conceptualization of what constitutes Canadian social work, though it seems that the dominant social work here often adopts Eurocentric, Anglophone assumptions. These assumptions are illustrated in the various social work codes of ethics and the Canadian Association of Social Workers’ 2020 Scope of Practice Statement, which, although now acknowledging social justice and Indigenous perspectives, still privileges an individualized and competency-based perspective. Various frameworks identified as more pertinent to Canadian realities have been offered. Examples include structural social work (Mullaly, 2006), critical social work (Fook, 2016), green social work (Dominelli, 2018), and anti-oppressive practice (Dumbrill & Yee, 2019; Parada & Wehbi, 2017). Significant efforts in theorizing and advancing Indigenous social work are also being made (Baskin, 2016; McCauley & Matheson, 2018; Sinclair, 2004). In addition to considering regional conceptualizations of social work, we also explored previous discourse analysis of social work journals. Such retrospectives are limited, though evident in recent work by Molgat and Trahan-Perreault (2015), regarding Canadian Francophone minority contexts, and Yu (2018), regarding Australia’s Stolen Generations. Employing content analysis, we aimed to identify the various constructions of Canadian social work represented in the journal over the last decade. We reviewed 163 articles, which we coded and organized into categories and themes. We identified that there were somewhat more English articles than French ones, though toward the end of the time period reviewed, we found parity regarding the number of articles appearing in these languages. The vast majority of these items discuss social work in Canada specifically. It was also evident that almost a third of …

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