‘Doing’ Social Work: Critical Considerations on Theory and Practice in Social Work

  • Marcus Herz Örebro University
  • Thomas Johansson Göteborg University
Keywords: Critical theory, doing gender, evidence, reflexivity


Social work is a multi-dimensional and contradictory field of practice, which often leads to theoretical confusion. Another tendency within social work today is the development of an evidence-based practice. This kind of social engineering, together with the theoretical confusion, might lead to the reproduction and strengthening of dominant discourses and perspectives. Pointing out the need for critical theory to transgress and resist hegemonic practices, the article aims to present ideas on how to theoretically position social work practice within a framework of critical theory. The question is how to combine an ambition to develop suitable methods and to anchor social work in a sound social-scientific context with critical theories concerning, for instance, gender, ethnicity, and class. It is suggested that a movement towards a more deconstructive and reflexive mode of thinking and practicing social work, ‘doing social work’, would enable the field to become more ethical and reflexive.

Author Biographies

Marcus Herz, Örebro University
Ph.D-student in social work at the Department for law, psychology and social work
Thomas Johansson, Göteborg University
Professor of education at the Department of Education, Communication and Learning