Social work education and anti-oppressive practice in Greece

  • Sofia Dedotsi

Student thesis: Unknown


Greece is seven years into a socio-economic crisis, where oppression has increased as a result of austerity measures driven by the political parties in governance and Troika. In a context of attacks on social care and social work, dominant social values of intolerance and violation of human rights, the pursuit of anti-oppressive practice is more crucial than ever. However, discussions and debates on social work and anti-oppressive practice have mostly taken place outside of the context of Greece. Reflecting on this gap, this doctoral research project asks: What is the role of social work education in influencing students' ability to manage value tensions in relation to anti-oppressive practice within the current context of social work education in Greece? It is the first such study of its kind in Greece.Using a qualitative case study methodology, the research was based in one of the four national Departments of Social Work (subsequently abolished). Semi-structured interviews were undertaken involving social work students in their first and final years of professional education (n=32) and academic staff/placement supervisors (n=10). Data analysis was informed by a ground theory approach.The study revealed social work education's failure in stimulating the development of an ethical and anti-oppressive self in students. The key determinants identified were: students' narrow understandings and individualistic approaches towards oppression; the unjust educational policies within which students are educated and educators work; an outdated curriculum with a clinical and technical approach; and lack of social action/connection with the community by the Department. Results are interpreted using the conceptual lens of Foucault (1977; 1980; 1982) and Freire (1970; 1993; 1994). A conceptual model is also presented, in order to understand and promote (anti-) oppressive practice at multiple levels: subjectivity, discipline and governmentality, as well as discourse, oppressive reality and dividing practices.The key implications of the study are for social work education to reflect and respond to current social needs by developing a radical and anti-oppressive curriculum; being involved in social action through social movements and professional associations; establishing a dialogical and reflexive learning process with the active participation of students and service users in designing and evaluating educational content and processes; and a constant deconstruction/reconstruction of the self for students, educators and practitioners.
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAlys Young (Supervisor) & Karen Broadhurst (Supervisor)


  • Greece
  • social work education
  • anti-oppressive practice

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