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Using structural social work as a means for understanding drug use among Aboriginals in Canada

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  1. Introduction
  2. The goal of structural social work
  3. The issue of drug use among Aboriginals in Canada
  4. The social problems
  5. Assimilating the Aboriginals
  6. The impact of the Indian Act
  7. Conclusion
  8. Reference list

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. [...]


[...] As such, they believe that the social problems that afflict certain people ought to be related to these unequal social forces, and this means that the study of drug use among Aboriginals in Canada must lie at a higher societal plane than that which is perceived by the order theorist. When the conflict theorist seeks to explain and uncover how drug use plagues Aboriginals in Canada they would look to the public issues that are relevant to the Aboriginal population as a way of explaining why they are using drugs in such high numbers. [...]

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