Social work as (re)socialization in practice

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One of my lecturers posits that ‘social inclusion’ has an inherent paradox: In seeking to encompass maximal diversity, a normative pressure is exerted upon those who diverge, so as they may conform to societal expectations. ‘Inclusive pedagogy’ involves accepting the unacceptable, so as to modify it into acceptability.

Being a proper social democrat, I am, of course a member of my trade union. As such, I also receive the union magazine on a regular basis. While leafing through the latest issue, the article on “Township Mothers1 illustrates these points.

There is outreach to the (potentially) marginalized and excluded, in which they experience empowerment and receive training in reaching out to others. This is resocialization in practice. Through establishing a sense of unity, more cohesive local communities are established, with the women learning how to be accepted as part of Danish society, and bucking (certain) statistical trends in the process.

A key part of the success of such an approach would seem to be, as Suad herself mentions, a certain amount of common ground. Through example, the Mothers are able to help architect the construction of a new, or at least altered, social identity, while retaining a connection to the past.

Which level of involvement in child upbringing is expected? What form of parenting is well-considered? Encouraging authoritative/directive parenting, as opposed to authoritarian forms of coercive control, is a perfect example of the inclusivity paradox. A (socially) ill-acknowledged practice is considered (with restrained judgement), a (socially) more acceptable practice argued for in its stead.

Whether initiatives such as these really are a way to pry the cold hand of inequality reproduction off of society’s neck is somewhat uncertain to me. There are still structural barriers for to overcome. But it does seem to be a step in the right direction.

  1. Sandahl, M. D. (2019, February 18). Suad blev stærk som bydelsmor. Socialpædagogen, (2019/03). Retrieved from https://socialpaedagogen.sl.dk/arkiv/2019/02/suad-blev-staerk-som-bydelsmor/