Critical theory, Habermas, neoliberal governmentality, social work


Two years have passed since the 2016 election of Donald J. Trump, and U.S. social work is revisiting its radical stirrings and grappling with its conservative moorings. In this paper, I will argue that as U.S. social work appraises the adequacy of its intellectual leaders, the cultural relevance of its practice models, and its stance toward the Enlightenment ideals of reason, truth, and justice, it might usefully re-examine its relationship to the critical theory legacy of the Frankfurt School, especially the thinking of Jürgen Habermas. My goal is in this essay is to suggest ways in which Habermasian thinking could provide social work more viable solutions than those offered by the idea of neoliberal governmentality.

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