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Social work and the radical right: impact of developments in Britain and the United States

Social work and the radical right: impact of developments in Britain and the United States


115 Articles Social work and the radical right: impact of developments in Britain and the United States SAGE Publications, Inc.1994DOI: 10.1177/002087289403700203 James Midgley Chris Jones In the 1980s, the welfare state was profoundly affected by the ascendancy of radical conservative ideology. Also known as the New Right, neo-liberals and neo-conservatives (Bell, 1963; Levitas, 1986a; King, 1987; Gottfried and Fleming, 1988; Glennerster and Midgley, 1991), the radical right adopted a stridently anti-welfare position, seeking to privatize state provisions, slash social expenditures and abrogate the principle of governmental responsibility for welfare (Bawden and Palmer, 1984; Stoesz and Midgley, 1991). While these developments have been well documented, relatively little has been written about the impact of the radical right on social work. Given the profession's historical commitment to alleviating poverty, promoting social justice and fostering respect for human diversity, social work was a natural target for the proponents of radical right-wing ideology who regard social work as a part of the left-leaning, intellectual establishment (Blumenthal, 1986) that has allegedly weakened traditional values, opposed free-market enterprise and undermined respect for authority. The radical right has been most successful in Britain and the United States where the Thatcher and Reagan administrations mounted a
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