Towards a Critical Pedagogy of Atmosphere in Social Work Education: Using Counter-Mapping to Examine the Emplaced Power Relations of Practice

Dharman Jeyasingham, Daniel Gutiérrez-Ujaque

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Abstract

In recent years, neoliberal government policies relating to higher education have diminished universities as spaces of learning and encounter with difference. This article discusses a teaching project that occurred on social work qualifying programmes in two universities in Britain and Spain. The project aimed to produce new opportunities for students to encounter and critically reflect on how power relations are produced and maintained in social work practice, by engaging students in mapping the atmospheres of stigmatised urban spaces. Students used counter-mapping techniques, which aim to make visible power relations and inequalities, in order to critically reflect on their experiences of and practices in such spaces. The article evaluates data in the form of students’ cartographies and narratives, and educators’ photographs and reflections on teaching, arguing for the benefits of moving teaching outside of the classroom and engaging with the material, sensed realities of places where social workers work. The article builds on recent conceptualisations of atmosphere and space in social work literature, contributes to discussions of critical reflection and critical pedagogy in social work and provides examples of the use of counter-mapping as a pedagogical tool in higher education contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberbcab031
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Early online date27 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Feb 2021

Keywords

  • atmosphere, counter-mapping, critical pedagogy, innovative research methods, place, social work education

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