Social Work With Rural Peoples

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9781554200207: Social Work With Rural Peoples

Social workers choosing to work in smaller towns or rural communities face a different set of conditions and concerns from their city colleagues. Ken Collier wrote his now-classic text Social Work with Rural Peoples, for those social workers, whether they are just starting out or already in the field.

The gist of Collier's genuinely radical book is that for rural social workers to be effective, they must be able to identify with the struggles of the people they are trying to help -- that trying to maintain "professional", "objective" distance will merely ensure that the social worker becomes part of the problem rather than part of the solution. For the social worker in a smaller community, "Whose side are you on?" is the most important question to be answered before any effective work can be done.

It is an indictment of the slow pace of progress against the societal problems facing rural populations that a third edition of Social Work with Rural Peoples is necessary.

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About the Author:

KEN COLLIER has worked as a rural social worker in northern British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Recently retired he taught social work and community studies at the University of Regina and Athabasaca University.

Review:

"As a social worker involved in community development in rural Alberta, Canada, I was pleased to see a book written on the subject of rural social work. I have found through the years that not only is very little written on the subject, but also that conferences, workshops, and other learning events that focus on social work or community development inevitably do not include any sessions or discussions about rural work. My review of this book reflects 20 years of work in community and social development in Canada and overseas, and it offers an analysis based on a practical understanding and application of rural and remote community development.

Collier writes from a Marxist analysis, stating that this allows for a deeper understanding of the impact of historical economic transitions and changes on rural communities and the social relations found there. Within that analysis is included discussion of social work practice in rural settings. This analytical framework allows Collier to point out the problems that arise when urban-based professionalized human services in the current industrial state are applied to rural communities.

A good review of transition from forager to agriculturist to modern-day industrialist, particularly in terms of social relations and support systems, is provided. The reader is left with a contextual understanding of how and why rural and remote communities are distinct from their urban counterparts as well as why it is important for social workers functioning in rural communities to use approaches different from those typically used in urban settings.

In the end, many of the barriers social workers face in rural and remote work are based on their own backgrounds middle-class urban professionals. Thus, rural social workers must first and foremost set aside much of their training and upbringing and relearn how to work once they find themselves in an environment and lifestyle that is significantly different from that found in the urban centers where they have been trained and employed. These points cannot be overemphasized, and Collier acknowledges that in his book." --Rebekah Seidel, Journal of Progressive Services. Vol 19(1) 2008

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