Full recordShow full item record
AbstractThe two leading international social work organisations, the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) and the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) have recently pushed hard to develop the “Global Standards for Social Work Education and Training”. These ‘global standards’ were compiled as the joint work of the two international social work organizations representing educators and practitioners respectively to serve as a guide for schools of social work around the world. First presented at the international social work conference held in Montpelier in 2002, they were adopted by the social work community in Adelaide in 2004. The standards aim to establish homogenous guidelines for social work education internationally. In so doing, they seek to formalize and standardize what is taught across diverse cultural, racial, religious, and ethnic contexts. Undoubtedly this reflects optimism about the possibility of a ‘universal profession of social work’ which can span vast social, political, economic, geographical, and cultural divides. With one fell swoop the standards aim to be simultaneously universal or global with some emphasis on the local context. This global-local divide is then seemingly accommodated by the rhetorical claim that these ‘global standards’ are, in fact, ‘minimum standards’ and ‘flexible guidelines’ within the parameters they establish for international social work education programs. They set benchmarks for those involved in establishing new schools of social work, the contributors for which are mostly social work academics from affluent Western countries. For others, in developing or democratizing countries in Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, and China, the expectation is that they must adopt ‘the core knowledge, processes, values and skills of the social work profession, as applied in context specific realities’. The ‘global standards’ are a vain attempt to show that social work is responding to globalization. Here we can trace the inclination for social work to deepen its institutional power base with a growing awareness of its place within the information age and neoliberal moral order. It seems to us that social work has, at best, a minimal role to play within any new global order, should such an order exist. Debate about whether globalization is actually a real phenomenon is fiercely contested in the social and political sciences. This seems to have gone completely unnoticed by IASSW and IFSW.