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SWK421- Social Divisions and Social Diversity

Dharman Jeyasingham

The module explores the ways in which race, gender, social class, sexuality, disability, age and other social structuring systems operate in everyday life, in social work practice and in society more broadly. It examines how social constructions of difference are established and sustained, for example through individual social relations, belief systems and institutional structures.

The module examines concepts for understanding power and provides students with opportunities to explore how power operates in social relations generally and in social work practice in particular. Social work values are considered as part of this discussion about power and students are enabled to consider the relationship between personal and professional values, and how questions of justice and morality are implicated in power relations in social work practice.

The module explores frameworks for valuing difference and addressing inequality, for example human rights and equality legislation, and considers their utility and limitations in social work. The module considers how social workers can intervene to challenge oppression, discrimination and inequality in practice.

Course Aims

By the end of the module students are expected to be able to demonstrate an understanding of:

  • The ways that discrimination, oppression and inequality occur and are sustained through social class, gender, race, sexuality, disability, age and other social structuring systems
  • How power operates through such systems in social work
    Debates about the extent to which social workers are able to challenge and address inequality, injustice and oppression

Introductory Reading

Brown, H. C. and Cocker, C. (2011) Social Work with Lesbians and Gay Men, London, Sage.

Clifford, D and Burke, B (2009) Anti-oppressive Ethics and Values in Social Work, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan

Dominelli, L (2008) Anti-racist Social Work: a challenge for white practitioners and educators, 3rd edition, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Dowling, M. (1999) Social Work and Poverty: attitudes and actions. Ashgate.

Fook, J. (2012) Social Work: A Critical Approach to Practice. London, Sage

Grover, C. (2012) ‘Localism and poverty in the United Kingdom: the case of Local Welfare Assistance’, Policy Studies, vol. 33, no. 4, pp. 349-365.

Grover, C. and Piggott, L. (2012) ‘Disability and social (in)security: emotions, contradictions of ‘inclusion’ and Employment and Support Allowance’, Social Policy and Society DOI:

Harne, L & Radford, J (2008) Tackling Domestic Violence: theories, policies & practice. Maidenhead, Open University Press.

Okitikpi, T and Aymer, C (2010) Key Concepts in Anti-Discriminatory Social Work. London, Sage.

Skeggs, B. (2004) Class, Self, Culture. London, Routledge

White, V (2006) The State of Feminist Social Work. London, Routledge

Williams, C. and Johnson, M. (2010) Race and Ethnicity in a Welfare Society. Maidenhead, Open University Press


100% Essay

MA / PGDip
Social Work



Fees and funding


This programme has been endorsed by TCSW as having met the social work professional quality criteria.



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