Feminist ideas in social work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter reviews the contribution of feminism to social work practice. It provides an overview of feminism’s intellectual base and how feminist knowledge continues to contribute to the evidence base of social work. The chapter outlines the major ideas emerging from third wave feminism, and identifies practice principles from such ideas. It concludes by acknowledging the value and impact of feminism in social work. Feminism draws on a range of philosophical and political approaches to problem definition and problem-solving through engagement with modernist and postmodernist orientations (Wendt, 2016; Saulnier, 2013). Feminism has also been grounded in social movements, described as ‘waves’, and has emerged through practices of academia and debate in a range of disciplines (Saulnier, 2013, p. 3). With this rich tapestry of practice and thought across time, one cannot simply say ‘feminism is . . .’. Instead, feminism offers many diverse frameworks and perspectives, and it is from this productive platform of ideas that social work engages with feminism. On the other hand, to identify or name commonality and answer why feminism features in social work, it is because feminism broadly focuses on explaining and responding to the oppressed position of women in many societies across the globe (see Chapter 29). Women’s experiences, roles and positions in societies become the focus in social work through utilizing
feminist ideas (Payne, 2014, p. 348).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Social Work Theory
EditorsMalcolm Payne, Emma Reith-Hall
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-315-21105-3
ISBN (Print)978-0-415-79343-8
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Social work practice
  • Feminism
  • Feminist theory


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