Anti-Oppressive Social Work Practice

In recent times, anti-oppressive work has become the main focus of social work. The impact of theoretical discussions of the topic on principles of social work field is still marginal (Adams, 2018). At present, few studies have documented the execution of anti-oppressive practices in service departments in organizations. The studies have focused either on non-government organizations or on community-level organizations. There is still not enough evidence that reflects the influence of anti-oppression on public social service. As such, there needs to be a comprehensive change process that can help create new service focusing on anti-oppressive principles in general social work.

Sometimes, one’s race, gender, ethnicity, and class can affect how people treat them. However, there are strength-based approaches for social workers such as focusing on an individual’s skills, knowledge, and potential among others. A look into anti-oppressive practices shows that they try to provide more workable, responsive, and perceptive services by identifying with the needs of the people without looking into their social status (Mattsson, 2014). It is more of a person-oriented philosophy and an equal system consisting of values that focus on lessening the ills that stem from structural inequalities of people. Anti-oppressive practice is also a method that exploits both processes and outcomes of structuring relationship between individuals that try to enlighten users by suppressing the impacts of profiling in terms of class. 

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Anti-oppressive practice is a concept that aims to promote equality and social fairness through strength-based approaches that focus on the strengths of an individual, group organizations, or families to empower them (Mattsson, 2014). As such, social workers need to enhance their abilities and attitudes when dealing with anti-oppressive practice (Adams, 2018). In addition, social workers should strive to gain more knowledge and understanding about themselves, the different groups in society, majority social systems, cultures, and fundamental rights for them to be in a position to face issues that stem from structural make-up. To pursue anti-oppressive practices, social workers need to be familiar with human rights and understand that it caters for all despite their background.

Contemporary social workers are going through different developments when implementing the anti-oppression approach. Social movements such as disability and LGBT have influenced the issue of verbalization, as well as, the mounting of the anti-depression approach (Adams, 2018). It is critical to challenge the issue of inequality as the primary influence in anti-oppressive practice. Anti-oppressive practice derives from the social make-up. It thrives on social constructionists models of differences such as race, gender, and ethnicity among others.

Anti-oppressive practices provide that the approach help challenge unequal structures at all levels including race (Johnston-Goodstar, 2013). The guiding principle for the method builds on self-awareness and understanding of how the social location of the social workers affects their communication with individual groups facing social class challenges. The way of reflecting and thinking is part of anti-oppressive practice. According to research, it indicates that self-knowledge is crucial for a social worker. For successful anti-oppressive practice, one should be able to evaluate how their actions, attitudes, and beliefs influence their work.

In conclusion, studies on anti-oppressive practice in social work indicate that discrimination against an individual or groups stems from class profiling. As such, some people tend to receive better treatment in public service due to their class. In anti-oppressive practice, the strength-based approach is the ability to look into the experiences of oppression of service users, which helps examine personal, cultural, and structural issues. As a social worker, it is best to understand the influence of human rights, cultural issues, and experts’ opinion, which can help them develop self-awareness. Self-awareness in anti-oppression will assist social workers in implementing their practice and ensuring that every person they serve is oppression-free.


Adams, M., Blumenfeld, W. J., Castaneda, C., Catalano, D. C. J., DeJong, K., Hackman, H. W,… 

Zuniga, X. (Eds.). (2018). Readings for diversity and social justice (4th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge Press.

Johnston-Goodstar, K. (2013). Indigenous youth participatory action research: Re-visioning 

social justice for social work with indigenous youths. Social Work, 58(4), 314-320. 
Note: Retrieved from Walden Databases.

Mattsson, T. (2014). Intersectionality as a useful tool: Anti-oppressive social work and critical 

reflection. Affilia, 29(1), 8-17.

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