The Meandering Social Worker

wandering : wondering : learning

Archive for the tag “neo-liberalism”

The role of capitalism in mental illness

Those who know me know will know how passionately I will agree with this article from Red Pepper: we are in an ‘epidemic’ of mental illness and the cause is the caustic society in which we live.  The greed and isolationism caused by the capitalist system serves an infinitesimally small number of people at the top of the tree who benefit financially from the ever increasing flow of goods and money around the world.

But as we have known for quite some time now, the acquisition of yet more goods has not brought the rest of us happiness that lasts longer than the addictive rush of a new purchase, or the advert telling us we need to buy some other new thing which will miraculously turn our lives into utopia.

Having travelled extensively in developing countries where this obsession with possessions has not yet achieved the grip it has in the so-called developed world, I have seen that this type of ‘poverty’ has not yet destroyed their families and communities.  They are relatively poor in that they don’t have the latest wide-screen TV or iPhone; their lives are not perfect, but they still have homes and shelter and warmth, they still have food, and they still have their relationships with their friends and families.  (Note I am not talking about communities and countries where poverty is causing real physical hardship and starvation.)

This transition began in the 18th Century with the Industrial Revolution, of which Britain was one of the forerunners, but the real shift came at the beginning of the 20th Century, with the work of Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud’s nephew, from which developed the modern advertising industry.  It’s a long watch (nearly 4 hours) but the documentary, The Century of the Self is enlightening.

But the question for all of us is how we can use this research, this knowledge, to overcome our own mental health frailties and support others who are also struggling.  We cannot turn the clock back.  We cannot undo what has been done.  We won’t get rid of the over-production and over-consumption of goods that is destroying our planet as well as our mental health, not to mention the lives of the oppressed workers in slave labour factory conditions.  At least not quickly, easily or without a lot of pain.

But we can start to understand the impact of our consumption led, consumerist world, challenge our own lives and work to help others to understand.


Jeremy Corbyn’s greatest success is the discrediting of neoliberalism

Source: Jeremy Corbyn’s greatest success is the discrediting of neoliberalism

When I first began in Social Services in the late 80’s the politicisation of social workers was in it’s death knell.

The 80’s and 90’s saw the continued rise of neo-liberalism, and, in social work, managerial-ism, with “New (right-wing) Labour” promoting Tory agendas, and the decline in the radical and political social worker.

But now the great neo-liberal lie is coming home to roost and people, the people, are beginning to see the truth.  Whether our clients are the elderly, disabled or children, the neo-liberal agenda has had a negative impact on their welfare and well-being, on the pound in their pocket, on the services they depend upon.

Jeremy Corbyn is a man of his time, stepping into the fray when the world is ripe for a socialist message of care, and Kitty once again hits the nail on the head in this article.

Power, Poverty, Politics & Values

Author: Martin Sheedy

From the Core Themes in Social Work series

Published in paperback by McGraw Hill Open University Press (ISBN: 9780335244553)

Starting with what is probably one of the most lucid explanations of the current neo-liberal political climate, Sheedy presents the reader with a compelling argument for the need for social work to defend its role in society.

Sheedy shows how inextricably linked are politics and the development of social work values and Codes of Practice, along with theories and methods of practice from both the modern and post-modern eras.

Demonstrating the capitalist system’s need to maintain inequality and disadvantage for its own continuation, Sheedy builds the evidence of a social work profession increasingly trapped in enforcing the uneven power struggles between a ruling elite and the disadvantaged, in a system that makes inequalities seem natural by focusing on pathologising the poor and individualising responsibility.  He shows that as social workers are frequently called on to police neo-liberal/capitalist policies, little space remains for challenging the structural causes of oppression, disadvantage and inequality.

Although the initial chapter on politics would probably benefit from one or two explanatory tables or diagrams, Sheedy writes in an engaging, easy to read style, without losing any of the academic rigour needed for his subject.

Post Navigation