The current debate about the knowledge claims of modernity has profound implications for theories and practices of social welfare, though postmodern critiques of its foundational beliefs should be approached cautiously. This paper suggests that a postmodern critique of three historically significant discourses -American casework, British social administration and Marxist social work - illustrates what might be learned from a deconstruction of their modernist assumptions as a stage in a reconstruction of social welfare ideas appropriate to postmodern conditions.

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