Securitising social work: counter terrorism, extremism and radicalisation

Finch, Jo and McKendrick, David (2020) Securitising social work: counter terrorism, extremism and radicalisation. In: Routledge Handbook of Critical Social Work. Routledge International Handbooks . Routledge, Abingdon, England, pp. 244-255. ISBN 9780367659592

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This chapter critically explores an emerging area of social work practice in the UK, namely its increasing role in counter-terrorism activities. The chapter explores the policy context within which social work in the UK, as well as many other professions, has now become legally mandated to identify and prevent violent extremism and terrorism, as well as report and/or work with, families or individuals where there are concerns about radicalisation and extremism. We argue that whilst the social work professions incursion into counter terrorism work is presented in a benign and straightforward manner; i.e. as an extension of “normal” safeguarding activities, rather, this is evidence of an increasingly securitised profession. We will subsequently explore the concept of securitisation that is traditionally used in International Relations, to evidence our concerns about increasingly securitised social work activities, by drawing on the work of Buzan, Waever and De Wilde (1998).
We recognise that whilst the social work profession’s relationship with the state has always been problematic in term of the care versus control tension (Lavalette, 2011), the move into what is in effect, counter terrorism work, is something that social work practitioners should not accept uncritically, or even possibly at all. Our concern is that such policy and practice shifts, moves social work in the UK very decisively towards a securitised profession, away from one that is ethics and rights based. Whilst this chapter is written from a UK social policy perspective, given the globalisation and the issues of terrorism across the world, it is likely that social workers worldwide may be tasked with managing the “problem” of radicalisation and extremism, in terms of identification and prevention, like the UK context, or perhaps working directly with those impacted by radicalisation and extremism, for example, returnees from conflict zones such as Syria, or indeed victims of terrorist attacks. The chapter begins with a brief account of the global context.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: social work, counter-terrorism activities, terrorism, radicalisation, UK
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Business & Applied Social Science > Department of Applied Social Sciences
Depositing User: Jo Finch
Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2022 12:23
Last Modified: 22 Nov 2022 12:23

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