Where's the beef? a response to Gray and Webb's ‘the return of the political in social work’

Iain Ferguson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Gray and Webb's article ‘The return of the political in social work’ is a welcome contribution to current debates. In its critique of the dominance of calculative reason, its rejection of postmodernism and identity politics, and its insistence on the need for social work to openly address issues of power and conflict, it is a useful addition to the growing critical literature concerned with challenging dominant forms of practice. That usefulness is limited, however, first by an excessively opaque style and, second, by problems associated with the writers’ argument and approach. These include: an over-reliance on Heidegger's ontology; an over-estimation of the potential of art to act as alternative paradigm; and a particularly content-less version of politics, derived from the work of Alain Badiou, which is likely to prove to be of limited value in the project of developing alternative forms of social work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-217
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Social Welfare
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • calculative reason
  • Postmodernism
  • Heidegger’s ontology
  • Alternative paradigms
  • Social Work


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