Editorial: ‘Arts and extremely dangerous’: critical commentary on the Arts in social work education

Hafford-Letchfield, Trish ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0105-0678, Leonard, Kate and Couchman, Wendy (2012) Editorial: ‘Arts and extremely dangerous’: critical commentary on the Arts in social work education. Social Work Education: The International Journal, 31 (6) . pp. 683-690. ISSN 0261-5479 [Article] (doi:10.1080/02615479.2012.695149)


Social work education has attempted to cross many boundaries as it strives to respond to incessant new demands confronting the profession. These are often in response to changing political socio-economic conditions, new organisational contexts and how to prepare professionals to respond creatively to any new challenges that evolve. Leadership of change in social work education might equally come from a range of unexpected sources if those involved in learning and teaching can be inspired to look outwards and beyond what is normally available. A body of evidence has been developing in social work which shows that crossing boundaries between the social sciences with the arts and humanities can help to communicate service users’ and
carers’ experiences more powerfully. As many of the papers in this special edition illustrate, active use of the arts within the process of learning offers the potential to free up those more traditional categories and lenses through which we tend to view service users and carers and their ‘problems’ or ‘issues’. Achieving more genuine and transformative insights and understandings, which depart from more habitual schemas for describing and thinking about social problems, requires an embracing of the diversity of human behaviour, personality and relationships, emotions and feelings, life events and culture, to mention but a few. Foucault’ s (1993) reference to
the ‘authoritative gaze’, that objectifies the user of public services and reinforces the power relationship, is a reminder of the ongoing themes and debates about the nature of social work practice and the positive contribution that the arts might make.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Special Issue: Arts in Social Work Education
Research Areas: A. > School of Health and Education > Mental Health, Social Work and Interprofessional Learning
Item ID: 11452
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Trish Hafford-Letchfield
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2013 08:07
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2019 16:21
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/11452

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