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Extra resources for Anti-Oppressive Social Work Theory and Practice
I am inclined to disagree with this view, for although we each may have a body, its meanings are different for each individual, depending on the attribute that is being (de)emphasised, the person’s social status and whether or not he or she feels comfortable with how bodies have been socially defined. An individual’s reaction to his or her body depends to a certain degree on how it is socially constructed by both him or herself and others (Wendell, 1996). Moreover, the imaging of the body has varied over time.
Each society has its own icons of what constitutes the body beautiful or its reverse and these images are impacted upon by a range of social divisions. They are particularly gendered and racialised. And they are associated with specific images of well-being (able-bodiedness) and age. In other words, the fact that our bodies are socially constructed means that ‘the body’ is experienced differently by different groups of people and individuals. Additionally, there are further reasons why a monolithic construction of the body that roots our similarities in its physical and social elements does not appeal to me.
That is, the social work profession has to become centrally involved in international organisations aimed at redistributing social resources more equitably across the world and enforcing the realisation of human rights, particularly for women and children who constitute the most numerous of the oppressed groups (Wichterich, 2000). Moreover, in recognising the multiple sources of oppression and the possibility of people being both oppressed and oppressing, social workers will have to ensure that they address both issues.