Social work and disabled children's childhoods: A Foucauldian framework for practice transformation
Curran, T. (2010) Social work and disabled children's childhoods: A Foucauldian framework for practice transformation. British Journal of Social Work, 40 (3). pp. 806-825. ISSN 0045-3102
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcn140
This paper examines how social work operates as a system of exclusion and inclusion and influences disabled children's childhoods. It is based on an action research project that aimed to promote 'listening' to disabled children in social work. A Foucauldian framework is applied to deconstruct discourses, analyse their use in practice and form a cycle of practice transformation. Three stories are presented from the action research project to illustrate how practitioners' conditions, discourses of childhood and disability and ethical statements limit or enhance disabled children's opportunities. The cycle of practice transformation is developed from analysis of the project and Foucault's approach to 'ethical practices'. This suggests a different purpose for welfare in which service provision aimed to liberate, protect and meet the needs of disabled children is not enough. The cycle aims to generate more 'desirable' forms of subjectivity that are enjoyed by disabled children. The Foucauldian framework provides an ethical basis for dialogue with members of organizations of disabled people that, it is argued, is especially relevant to transformation of relations of vulnerability and the involvement of others in disabled children's childhoods.