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Structural social work and social problems like drug use

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  1. Introduction
  2. Structural social work
  3. Karl Marx's view
  4. The role of post-modernism
  5. The conflict perspective
  6. Dual function of social work
  7. Conclusion
  8. Reference list

Structural social work has been an emerging practical theory in the field of social work since the 1970s. It grew in response to the supremacy of class analysis as opposed to other structural factors within the field. The theory of structural social work grew as human relations became increasingly recognized to be influenced by inequitable distribution of power and privilege. It was not just economic inequalities but also social inequalities stemming from race, gender, sexual orientation, ability and age. Structural theorists began calling for the inclusion of those who were previously marginalized in the development of social work theory. This new branch of social work grew on the notion that the field has significant transformative potential and should therefore adhere to a commitment of equity, justice, community and the elimination of all form of oppression. Since its inception, structural social work has had much influence in the curriculum of many schools and practitioners have implemented it into their practice.(Mullaly, 1997: 3). The following essay will discuss what is meant by structural social work and how it can be used to inform the study of drug use in society. From this it will be clear that structural social work can serve to inform us about the study of drug use in society by applying a conflict perspective to critical theory and seeking to explain problems of drug use through an examination of broader social forces.

[...] They argue that society is marked with inequalities and is fragmented along lines of class, gender, race and age and these social forces must be related to the social problems that plague individuals within society, including drug use. Conflict theorists believe that societal problems, like drug use, must lie at a higher societal plane than is perceived by the order theorists. Reasons and Perdue (1981:111), note that conflict theorists do not ignore individuals, families and subcultures, but they relate these societal planes with broader structures within society. [...]


[...] Structural social work is a conflict perspective (as opposed to an order perspective) as it views society as an ongoing contested struggle among groups and with opposing views and interests. Under this approach, it is held that society is not maintained through order but by differential control of resources and political power. (Mullaly, 1997: 119). The conflict perspective has its own theory about social problems, and can serve to inform the study of drug use in society. According to Horton (1966: 702), conflict analysis in one and the same as historical analysis, as it interprets social processes in a way that understand the transformation of social relations. [...]

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