Social work is settler colonialism: Marjorie Johnstone, ‘The Pervasive Presence of the Discourse of White Civility in Early Canadian Social Work in Immigration Services (1900–30)’, The British Journal of Social Work, 2015
Abstract: The first half of the twentieth century was formative for the Canadian social work profession. White settler Canada was at an intersection between the social forces of capitalism, socialism, feminism, nationalism, imperialism and social reform ( Cohen, 1996; Gaudet, 2001). A discourse of British imperial ideas was in wide circulation, although there was contestation and diverging ideas. Through the osmotic transmission process of cultural imperialism, many of these imperial ideas became part of the fabric of social work. Using a comparative historical archival approach, I examine two politically different social work organisations—the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire and Toronto University Settlement—in order to show that this discourse crossed the political spectrum. I consider the influence of imperial discourses on the formation of Canadian social work and the legacy this has left us with.
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