We are interested in - and committed to - thinking about the relationship between theory and practice. We are developing a new theory - radical concern - to help articulate and defend what we do, and our reasons for doing it.
Radical concern is an attempt to bridge the gap between the theory of social casework and front-line reality. Employing ideas from empathy theory, philosophy of language, social casework and theory of knowledge, radical concern attempts to describe what social caseworkers do, see, feel and think. Most importantly, it seeks to offer a platform for those we work with to engage with a wider audience, depicting and reflecting adversity, deprivation, disadvantage and inequality. Radical concern seeks to engage with the complex intersection where individual healing meets social healing. As the social model of disability reminds us, individuals are not always responsible for their misfortune, bad luck, or unfreedom. In order to do justice to our clients, social casework must target structural inequalities alongside its day-to-day engagement with children and families. This is also related to the model of therapeutic casework we are currently developing, Structural Empathic Therapeutics (SET).
A published defence of radical concern is now available in Edge, M. (2016), Political Philosophy, Empathy and Political Justice (New York: Routledge), ch. 4.
We are working on a shorter paper on radical concern for the website.
We have also begun work on the 'Cambridge Manual of Concern', a piece of work looking at inequality in Cambridge and how this impacts on the lives of children and families and their freedom. If you are interested in finding out more, or in contributing, please contact Matt (firstname.lastname@example.org).