“Hidden Transcripts” of Globalization: The Role of Social Work in the Development of Social Welfare in the United States

By Natasha Menon and Gregory Acevedo.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In many parts of the developing world, the discourse of globalization has found form in social movements protesting multinational corporations and simultaneously demanding protection of citizen rights from the state. Yet, policy debates in the United States have tended to cast globalization as an ‘external’ process. Recent debates over ‘outsourcing’ have emphasized domestic implications of globalization for United States. A retrospective analysis of social movements in the United States, particularly the labor, feminist, environmental, and human rights movements, reveals a long tradition of resistance to dominant interpretations of how to ‘manage’ global transformations. These social movements are ‘hidden transcripts’ (Scott, 1990) of resistance, operating within a matrix of constraints and possibilities. They field discourses critical of the hegemonic ‘public transcript’ on globalization. This paper provides a historical analysis of the development of social work as a profession and its responses to globalization, especially the forces of urbanization and immigration. As globalization has shifted, the roles and functions of social workers in the United States have also changed (e.g. change agent, clinical practitioner, or contractor of social services). We analyze the role that social work and social movements have played in the historical development of social welfare in the United States, paying close attention to the hidden transcripts of the community organizing tradition in social work (Fisher, 1984). We consider implications for the future of the social work profession as it copes with myriad of challenges ranging from the demise of the welfare state to the movement away from community-based models of practice. Such an analysis is quite timely in the light of the inter-continental migration that cities in the United States are facing, and the role that social workers often play as first responders to economic and social crises that are faced by citizens, families, and neighborhoods.

Keywords: Globalization, Social Work, United States, Historical Review

Global Studies Journal, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.39-48. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 579.977KB).

Dr. Natasha Menon

Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Social Service, Fordham University, New York, USA

Natasha Menon is an Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Social Service at Fordham University, New York. She has a Masters in Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and a MSW and Ph.D from Washington University in St. Louis, USA. Her areas of scholarship include as devolution of public goods and its impact on community collective action, social welfare policy in the developing world, globalization and citizenship, and impact of Information and Communication Technology in urban community development.

Dr. Gregory Acevedo

Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Social Service, Fordham University, New York, USA

Gregory Acevedo, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Social Work in the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service. He teaches in the area of social welfare policy and human behavior and the social environment. His scholarly work has focused on the political, economic, and sociocultural circumstances of Hispanic/ Latino groups in the United States, with a focus on such issues as socioeconomic status, immigration and globalization, political and civic participation, education, family dynamics, and health and mental health outcomes, and their implications for social work theory, research, and practice. He received his Ph.D. in Social Work in 2001 from the Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research; a Master of Science degree in Psychological Services in Education from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (1987); and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania (1985). He completed his externship training in family therapy at the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic (1987-1988). He has professional practice experience in various children and family, and mental health agencies.

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