Radical casework

Essay by Fab111 January 2005

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The purpose of this assignment is to provide a framework to distinguish how radical and non-radical perspectives can be used. The paper will explore a range of casework and socio-political orientation theories through discussion of the unique challenges of Vanessa Thomas and her children (case study).

Radical casework is quite different to the traditional or non-radical approach. Traditional understanding puts emphasis on the individual and sees the social environment as a mixture of interpersonal relationships and roles within the direct social surroundings of family, friends, and work; (Bailey & Brake, 1975; Galper, 1980). On the other hand, the radical approach includes ideas of how various aspects of the broad socio-economic framework, such as dominant beliefs, exploitative and oppressive practices in power, affect the individual. It aims to address the structural inequality in the wider society. Certain principle values of both approaches can appear at times to conflict. Thompson (2000) says that these values do not conflict, but asks that the person is seen as an individual and part of a wider 'web of social and political factors'.

Petruchenia and Thorpe (1990) go one step further stating that the difference between radical and more conventional casework is related to the interpretation of the 'social milieu'.

Presenting Problem

Building on the assignment case overview, the following information provides an abbreviated history on Vanessa's experiences to now.

Early Childhood ·

Father was an alcoholic & physically abused family members·

Mother separated from Father when Vanessa was nine

Teenage Years:

From 13-18 Vanessa substance abuse developed starting with alcohol and occasional cannabis use and through to amphetamines/cocaine · Started to get involved in petty crime ·

By 18, drugs were needed to feel 'normal'.


Increased drug addiction resulted in more serious criminal offences - stealing, armed robbery and prostitution.·Vanessa gave birth to...