Radical Reflexivity as Key Dimension of a Critical Scientific Understanding of Social Work

Fabian Kessl, Susanne Maurer


What sort of science can be practised when scientific thought and research in the context of social work is unwilling to align with the prevailing (hegemonic) patterns of thinking? How can science open up a space that offers potentiality for the criticism of power (Herrschaft); a space for social imagination?

It is from these questions that we derive the following considerations on reflexivity as a central dimension of a critical scientific understanding of social work. As ‘critical science’ we define the systematic work of generating insights and analytic tools that can be used by members of society for their own and also for mutual insights. The aim of this process of enlightenment is thus the ability to make judgements and achieve positioning. The latter always means – formulated somewhat crudely – an ‘ability to oppose’ on the part of members of society, an ability to take a “counter-position”. Only with this specification does a general definition of science become one of critical science.

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