Oppression is something that affects all people within the framework of Western society who are not members of the dominant group. This can include people of color or those with disabilities; those of other sexual preferences; and especially the poor. In fact, there are many types of oppression that affect people in Canada and around the world. Structural social work has grown out of a desire to give a different way of explaining the oppression that people face other than the supremacy of class analysis. It grew out of the realization that uneven distributions of power and privilege are heavily correlated with the many social problems that afflict our society. These include economic inequalities and social inequalities like race, gender, sexual orientation, ability and age. It has sought to eliminate the inequalities in our society that cause oppression and it has also given us a new way of understanding the role that oppression plays in our society.
Structural social workers recognize the social inequalities that exist and they work for the inclusion of those marginalized people in the development of social work theory. From there it seeks to eliminate all forms of oppression. (Mullaly, 1997: 3). The following essay will discuss how the field of structural social work can be used to inform the study of drug use among Aboriginals in Canada.
[...] This refers to the people that have been separated from the social system and who have lost their sense of collective consciousness. (Mullaly, 1997: 119). A conflict theorist is therefore well-equipped to tackle the issue of drug use among Aboriginals in Canada as they do not believe that social problems, like drug use, originate within the individual, family or subculture. They believe they stem from broader practices of the dominant group that serve to alienate the oppressed, in this case the oppressed are the Aboriginals in Canada. [...]
[...] A good starting point for the structural social worker in this regard would be to examine the historical injustices that Aboriginals in Canada have experience and the way that this has impacted the collective health of these peoples. Further, it is necessary to uncover the prevalence and impacts of drug use among these peoples. Since the inception of structural social work, much progress has been made in addressing the urgent issue of excessive drug use among the Aboriginal population. (Wesley-Esquimaux, C. [...]
[...] Aboriginals were denied basic human rights and were designated as basic wards of the state. It was a like the system of apartheid that took place in South Africa against the Black population there. Essentially, Aboriginals were thrown into limbo as everything they ever knew about culture and their way of life was being forcibly taken from them, and this opened the door to addictive behavior that would plague their people until present day. (Chansonneuve, 2007: 16). The residential school abuse that took place also played a significant role in the destruction of their culture and way of life. [...]
[...] It is also difficult to have empathy for a certain group of people without first having a deeper understanding of the issues that caused the Aboriginal person to become involved with drug use in the first place. For the structural social worker to be effective, they must have an understanding of the collective experience of this group of people, including that which is related to the legacy of residential schools abuse and the intergenerational impacts that stem from it. This necessitates an education of the Aboriginal legacy in Canada as it will play a vital role in the social workers quest to release these peoples from the grips of oppression and domination that are causing them to be heavy drug users. [...]
[...] Structural social work has sought to change this though, as it has attempted to understand the problem of drug use among Aboriginals with a conflict perspective. These social workers use the family, individual and sub culture actors within the broader discussion of what forces in society are creating the problem of drug use in Aboriginal society. (Mullaly, 1997: 127). From this essay it is clear that structural social work can serve to inform us about the study of drug use among Aboriginals by applying a conflict perspective to critical theory and seeking to explain problems of drug use through [...]
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