Margaret Atwood – The Heart Goes Last

heart-goes-lastI have an academic interest in utopias.  Imagination is often underplayed in social policy, but, to me, creating future worlds is an inevitable product of redistributing resources in the present.  A current fantasy of mine, in a near-future Utopia is that one of my favourite authors has read my blog and deliberately uses the motif of Doris Day as a ploy, so that I write about her work.  Atwood understands the technology, the communication networks and the soft power of blogging.  The tens of views my blog regularly receives means she could find a new audience of social workers and policy researchers previously considered ‘hard to reach’[1].

My imagination is not complete enough to detail fully the symbiotic relationship between academic and author that would flourish in the near future, but I can at least flatter myself that Atwood (or Margaret as I call her when we text and email) have a shared understanding of the complexity and nuance that the seemingly innocent image of Doris Day can evoke. Continue reading

Cynthia Bond – Ruby (2015)

rubyReading plays a number of roles in my professional and private lives.  Sometimes I read fiction to transport myself out of the present.  I read fiction at night to provide for that gap between the switched on working mind and the sleeping one.  However, writing this blog means I make connections between the theories and explanations of social policy and the fiction I read to escape.  This was most acute when reading Ruby.

The social policy academic side of me, would describe Ruby as a novel about racism, sexism, their intersection, child abuse, child sexual exploitation (CSE) and poverty. The social work educator might use it as an example to study the impact of grief, bereavement and trauma.  Yet none of those terms would be found in Ruby. The vocabulary of the novel and my day job are very different, even if the content is shared. Continue reading

Tess Hadley – The Past (2015)

the pastAfter the trauma of reading The Tidal Zone, Tessa Hadley’s The Past was a welcome retreat.  A mildly dysfunctional family in a cosy, mildly dysfunctional setting.  It was a charming, knowing read.  It understood the point of fiction and the number of roles it can play.

One aspect of the story is the romantic relationship between Molly and Kasim, in which the slightly older Kasim casts himself as knowing seducer. Of course, it is not as simple as that:

“Don’t be anxious about this, he said – I’ll be very gentle.  I’ve had quite a bit of experience.

– I’ve had some too, Molly said, – so I’m not anxious”

Continue reading

Donna Tartt – The Goldfinch (2013)

gold finch bookMy first blog in a long time and there is a good reason why it has taken so long – I have been reading Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and it is huge and I have very little time for reading for pleasure.

I have finished reading the novel at much the same time as the #7daysofaction campaign has been launched.  #7daysofaction is a social media campaign to raise awareness of adults with learning disabilities who are being warehoused in Assessment and Treatment Units (ATUs) across the UK.  When I first started research disability in the 1990s, I was particularly inspired by Jenny Morris book – Pride against Prejudice and when considering the right to family life, I am always reminded of these words:

 “Powerlessness characterises the experience of residential care and the nature of institutionalism affects even those of us who are not in residential care. The possibility of institutionalism hangs over many disabled people living in our own homes, fuelled by the fear that one day the support which makes our independence possible will disappear, or that an increase in functional limitations will prove too much for whatever resources are available to us” (Morris, 1991: 127) Continue reading

Anne Tyler (2015) – A Spool of Blue Thread

CALAM1I like Doris Day films.  Sometimes, life is ugly and injustice leads me to rail, so I escape into a Doris Day rom-com.  I choose Doris, however, because despite the whimpering-simpering storyline, she always sets her chin defiantly, pulls a funny face and provides character.  She is not alarmingly beautiful, but a talented comedienne who can belt out a tune and looks great in chaps.  This is also how I feel about Anne Tyler.  She is often accused of being ‘cosy’.  The world of her books is ‘small’ and ‘everyday’.  But Tyler can also poke her tongue out, display great comic timing and draw attention to strength as well as frailty. Continue reading

Is Domestic Abuse an Adult Social Care Issue?

This is the link to an article I co-wrote with researchers at MMU about adult social care and domestic abuse, published in the Journal of Social Work Education:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2016.1140733

Abstract

Within a global profession with a stated definition that includes “promoting social change and development, social cohesion and the empowerment and liberation of people”, it would be expected that the issue of domestic abuse would be integral to the training and role of all social workers.  This article reports on research, which highlighted both a lack of understanding of the role of adult social worker within cases of domestic abuse and also a desire for further training around the issue.  However, this article sets out how the current UK (in particular, English) context of social work marginalises the issue of domestic abuse within practice with adults. This marginalisation has been achieved through the construction of domestic abuse as a children and families issue and limited duties, powers and resources within statutory work to support victims/survivors in their own right, rather than as “failing” parents. However, the article argues that the role of social work education should be wider than teaching to the current policy or procedures and instead encourage a wider appreciation of the social, historical and political context. The article concludes with tentative suggestions for how domestic abuse could be considered within the social work curriculum for adult practitioners.  This is in acknowledgement that social workers can be well positioned for the detection, investigation and support of those experiencing abuse.

Reference

Rachel Robbins, Concetta Banks, Hugh McLaughlin, Claire Bellamy & Debbie Thackray (2016): Is Domestic Abuse an Adult Social Work Issue?, Social Work Education, DOI: 10.1080/02615479.2016.1140733 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2016.1140733

To access the full document, you may need to be registered with a university library or contact me for further details.

Carol (2015)

Director: Todd Haynes

** This blog contains spoilers**

carol-movie-posterLast week I was lucky enough to be able to see Carol with a group of friends at my locally refurbished cinema.  It was an opportunity to catch up and be entertained.  After watching the film, I didn’t think that I would write about it. This is not to say that I did not enjoy the film.  It is beautiful and seductive and as someone who is easily distracted by well-cut clothes, I would definitely recommend the film.  However, it was not until I wrote about control in the last blog, that I found something to say about the film beyond the aesthetic. Continue reading