Disrupting hegemony in social work doctoral education and research: Using autoethnography to uncover possibilities for radical transformation


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Social work has enhanced its profile in the United States by adopting a particular dialect of scientific inquiry wherein positivism and evidence-based practice are considered gold standards of social work research and practice. This ideological shift permeates doctoral education and research training, as well as social work more broadly. Little attention, however, is paid to the pedagogical approaches used to train doctoral students into a “science of social work,” and we know even less about critical methodologies in doctoral education. This collaborative autoethnography weaves together the personal narratives of three doctoral students and one early career faculty member navigating an academic context within a large public university in the United States. We employ a participatory and intersectional approach to analyze narrative data in terms of how our identities interact with the structures relevant to where we study and work. Three themes emerged from our collaborative analysis: becoming disillusioned by disciplinary shortcoming; confronting dissonance with radical solidarity; and making change on the inside using perspectives from the outside. We argue throughout that critical reflexivity is a tool to document, resist, and transform hegemonic discourse that narrowly defines what it means to embody social work research, practice, and education.

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