University of Tasmania
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The challenge of existential social work practice

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posted on 2023-05-27, 11:48 authored by Griffiths, MG
The purpose of this exegesis is to describe the theoretical, biographical, and practical journey of producing the text of the book, The Challenge of Existential Social Work Practice. The exegesis is Part A of the complete thesis, and Part B is the book itself, which is not submitted as a separate document, as it is subject to commercial contract with the publishers, Palgrave Macmillan. Part C is an article titled 'Applying Gabriel Marcel's Thought in Social Work Practice', which was published in Marcel Studies in 2015 and is freely available on line. The three documents comprise my attempt to make sense of an existential approach to social work practice in the 21st century. In this exegesis, I critically examine the writings of key existential thinkers such as Jean Paul Sartre, Gabriel Marcel, and Martin Heidegger as they apply to social work. The view that existential thought is incommensurable with the diversity of existential perspectives is rejected. There are some fundamental concepts shared among existential thinkers. Two examples are the ideas of being-in-the-world and lived experience, which, I argue, are common to all the thinkers mentioned above. My focus is the application of existential thinking to social work practice. The corpus of existential creative writing, which includes literature, plays, films, and diaries, features less in my work than does explicitly philosophical writing. My view is that the philosophical works are most relevant to social work practice. However, existential creative writing does highlight important features of existential thought in a way that enhances our understanding of the underlying philosophy. Albert Camus, for example, wrote more creative works than philosophical ones, and as such this exploration of existential thought must cover a broad cross-section of existential writing limited by my focus on social work. For example, I refer to 'The Guest' (1958), a short story by Camus. I have used this short story because I believe that it brings out the dilemma of the helping person in a hostile environment in their role as both a social control and potential agent of social change. For me, Camus's story exemplifies the challenge of being in both roles, taking both responsibilities seriously and facing the challenges of this dilemma.


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Copyright 2017 the author The author has published a book entitled The challenge of existential social work practice, which forms a part of this thesis, is a publication, and is subject to commercial contract with Palgrave MacMillan, London. It is not available from this repository but can be obtaind from the publisher's website. a link to it is included in this record.

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