'Vulnerability': questioning the certainties in social work and health

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Abstract

The identification and management of vulnerability is increasingly being incorporated into legislation and embedded within policy and practice frameworks in Western nations. However, as part of this process, the concept tends to be presented as objective, uncontroversial and as having a fixed meaning with universal validity and applicability. In this article, this interpretation will be critically interrogated and the contemporary connections made between vulnerability, risk, control and safety management will be examined. It will be argued that vulnerability can be interpreted in a number of different ways and that the exploration of these has the potential to reforge working relationships between social workers, health professionals and service users in ways which militate against the erosion of self-determination and autonomy and which address the resultant inequalities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472-484
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Social Work
Volume52
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2009

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Keywords

  • vulnerability
  • social work
  • health
  • social care policy and practice

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