Confronting White Femininity in Community-based Social Work Practice: An Autoethnography and Foucauldian Discourse Analysis
AdvisorWalsh, Christine A.
Committee MemberEl-Lahib, Yahya
Foucauldian discourse analysis
Community-based social work practice
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AbstractUnderstanding the effects of White femininity on social work practice is a worthy endeavour provided the disproportionate numbers of White women that have built and occupied the professional role of social worker from the origins of colonization to present. Mainstream accounts of social work history narrate the profession to be a pursuit of well-intentioned middle- and upper-class White women, concealing the colonial operations that underpin the formation of social work as a White feminine project. Additionally, this dominant discourse conceals the racial segregation prominent in the field of social work that prevents Indigenous, Black, and other racialized people from gaining entry into the profession. While Whiteness and its effects within social work have been a subject of study, the intersection of gender and Whiteness has been minimally addressed, disregarding significant nuances that inform the relationship between the project of colonization and social work. This thesis study provides a detailed analysis of semi-structured interviews with eight White, woman-identified social workers who have practiced in community-based social work for a minimum of two years in Alberta, Canada. Using Foucauldian discourse analysis and drawing from autoethnographic techniques, I trace the ways the participants perform, witness, and disrupt the dominant discourse of White femininity. The findings illuminate the social work profession's ongoing complicity with its colonial origins, which collude with White femininity and ultimately foster practices steeped in racism. A vital need to disentangle social work from its colonial and racist scripts is emphasized.
CitationHoselton, J. (2022). Confronting White Femininity in Community-based Social Work Practice: An Autoethnography and Foucauldian Discourse Analysis (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.
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