A Violent History of Benevolence: Interlocking Oppression in the Moral Economies of Social Working

By Chris Chapman and A.J. Withers

© 2019

A Violent History of Benevolence traces how normative histories of liberalism, progress, and social work enact and obscure systemic violences. Chris Chapman and A.J. Withers explore how normative social work history is structured in such a way that contemporary social workers can know many details about social work’s violences, without ever imagining that they may also be complicit in these violences. Framings of social work history actively create present-day political and ethical irresponsibility, even among those who imagine themselves to be anti-oppressive, liberal, or radical.

The authors document many histories usually left out of social work discourse, including communities of Black social workers (who, among other things, never removed children from their homes involuntarily), the role of early social workers in advancing eugenics and mass confinement, and the resonant emergence of colonial education, psychiatry, and the penitentiary in the same decade. Ultimately, A Violent History of Benevolence aims to invite contemporary social workers and others to reflect on the complex nature of contemporary social work, and specifically on the present-day structural violences that social work enacts in the name of benevolence.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 536 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
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Quick Overview


A Violent History of Benevolence traces how standard histories of liberalism, progress, and social work are inextricable from systemic violences of colonialism, racism, disablism, cisheteropatriarchy, eugenics, and capitalism.

A Violent History of Benevolence: Interlocking Oppression in the Moral Economies of Social Working

By Chris Chapman and A.J. Withers

© 2019

A Violent History of Benevolence traces how normative histories of liberalism, progress, and social work enact and obscure systemic violences. Chris Chapman and A.J. Withers explore how normative social work history is structured in such a way that contemporary social workers can know many details about social work’s violences, without ever imagining that they may also be complicit in these violences. Framings of social work history actively create present-day political and ethical irresponsibility, even among those who imagine themselves to be anti-oppressive, liberal, or radical.

The authors document many histories usually left out of social work discourse, including communities of Black social workers (who, among other things, never removed children from their homes involuntarily), the role of early social workers in advancing eugenics and mass confinement, and the resonant emergence of colonial education, psychiatry, and the penitentiary in the same decade. Ultimately, A Violent History of Benevolence aims to invite contemporary social workers and others to reflect on the complex nature of contemporary social work, and specifically on the present-day structural violences that social work enacts in the name of benevolence.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 536 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    "Linking history to the present is very important to social work readers. Discussing rehabilitation, assimilation, and repair, A Violent History of Benevolence acts as a counter-narrative to the more simplistic, history-as-progress narrative often assigned to conversations about social work. This information is vital for students and faculty, and the social work knowledge base."


    Donna Jeffery, School of Social Work, University of Victoria

    "The book beautifully and at times devastatingly traces the violent history of benevolence from which much current social work, and psy-expertise, has grown. This is a study of historical violence and atrocity that disrupts and makes unfamiliar continued and contemporary practices, making us look anew at how these practices enact violence, encouraging a deep ethical questioning of people’s imagined rights to intervene in others’ lives."


    China Mills, Lecturer in Critical Educational Psychology, School of Education, University of Sheffield

    "Sensitive to how history is written, Chapman and Withers pull out threads that reveal what is not included in usual histories of social work."


    Sheila Neysmith, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto
  • Author Information

    Chris Chapman is an associate professor of Social Work at York University.


    A.J Withers is a PhD candidate in the School of Social Work at York University, and an organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty.
  • Table of contents

    List of Illustrations
    Acknowledgments

    Introduction
    Social Working, Interlocking Oppression, and Moral Economies
    A Brief Discussion of Some Indigenous Social Workings on This Land
    Organization and Structure of A Violent History of Benevolence

    Part One: Deconstructing Social Work and Social Work History

    1 Troubling the Standard Account of Social Work
    The Standard Account
    The Pull of the Other Side of the River
    Charity Organization Societies: Beyond Friendly Visiting to the Poor
    Settlement Houses and Jane Addams
    The New "Social Work"
    What the Established Riverbanks Obscure
    Contemporary Charity Organization and the Continued Polarity of the Riverbanks
    "Mingling" as Continued Solution to Structural Violence
    Conclusion

    2 White Supremacy and the Erasure of Racialized Social Workers
    Social Work History as White Social Work History
    Black Churches: Bestowing Charity and Organizing for Change
    "Separate Spheres" and Women’s Clubs
    The Great Migration: Migrant Assistance and the Shift towards Black Incarceration
    Black Settlement Houses
    Woman’s Christian Temperance Union
    Anti-Lynching
    Ida B. Wells-Barnett
    White Social Work and Anti-Lynching
    Maggie L. Walker and the Independent Order of St Luke
    The Social Work Profession, Social Science, and Education
    Black Social Work in Canada
    Settlements in Canada
    Anti-Slavery Societies and Black Immigrant Assistance
    Social Services
    Class Stratification and How It Interlocked with Racism and Social Work
    Early Women Social Workers and Gender Roles
    Subjugated Community-Based Social Workings Beyond Black and White
    Conclusion

    3 Social Work as Displacement, Denigration, Cisheteropatriarchalization
    Professional Social Work as the Delegitimization of Local Practices and People
    Centring Imperialist Displacement; Decentring Ruling Class White Exceptionality
    Cisheteropatriarchalization as an Advancing White Ruling Class Moral Economy
    Early Professional Social Work and Cisheteropatriarchy
    The Ethic of the Healing Power of Domination and Imagined Moral Superiority
    An Initial Shift in the Ethic of Relating Across Difference: The Knights Hospitaller
    Claims of Relative Innocence, Part One: Progressive and Secular Dividing Practices
    Claims of Relative Innocence, Part Two: Knowing It Was Wrong|
    Conclusion

    Part Two: Interlocking Genealogies of the Ethic of the Healing Power of Domination and Imagined Moral Superiority

    4 Knowing Better: Liberalism, Instrumental Violence, and Making New Humans
    What We Like to Say; What We Actually Do
    Claims of Relative Innocence, Part Three: Interpreting Others’ Motivations
    Further Standardizing Instrumental Violence: The Theresian Criminal Constitution
    Kant’s Enlightened Morality: Rational Self-Assurance and the Birth of the "New Man"
    Gentle Instrumental Violences, Part One: Rationalizing Colonial Education
    Gentle Instrumental Violences, Part Two: Continual Observation and Coerced Penitence
    Gentle Instrumental Violences, Part Three: Psychiatry, Unchaining, and Moral Treatment
    Surveillance, Sorting, and Scientific Stratification
    The Validation and Invalidation of the Invalid: Emergent Social Welfare Policy
    The Validation and Invalidation of the "Indian": 1800s White Settler Colonial Policy
    Legislated Exclusions: Racialized and Disablist Immigration Policies
    Conclusion

    5 Rehabilitation/Eugenics
    The Moral Economy of Rehabilitation
    The Origins of Rehabilitation before the First World War
    Soldiers, Sailors, and Sameness
    Medical, Economic, and Civil Rehabilitation
    Overcoming Disability
    Nationalizing Rehabilitation
    Professional Social Work and Rehabilitation
    Rehabilitation and the Enforcement of Cisheteronormativity
    Rehabilitation/Eugenics and Whiteness/Nationality/Citizenship
    Conclusion

    6 Assimilation/Genocide
    The Moral Economy of Assimilation
    Destroying Lives
    The Unquestionable Good of Imposing Whiteness onto Others
    Destroying Lifeworlds
    White Supremacy and Care
    Conclusion

    7 What If It Isn’t Getting Better? What Do We Do Then?
    The Significance of Implicating Ourselves in Interlocking Legacies of Violence
    Is It Getting Better?
    Still "Forcibly Transferring Children of the Group to Another Group"
    Towards Addressing the Chronic Gap between What We Say and What We Do
    Navigating Inherently Oppressive Systems: The Everyday Life of Many a Social Worker
    Moving Forward: Learning from Social Movements and Displaced Practices
    Disability Justice and the Democratic Redistribution of Dependence and Care
    Conclusion

    Conclusion: The Varied Paths That Brought Us Here

    Timeline: Selected Events from the Age of Enlightenment through the Progressive Era

    Notes
    References
    Index