Exhaustion and Possibility: The Wor(l)dlyness of Social Work in (G)local Environment Worlds During a Pandemic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Exhaustion is not about being tired. It is an intense feeling of restlessness, of insomnia, and awakening when I ask myself: have I exhausted all that is possible? Such a state of restlessness and wakefulness represents a turning point for having enough, and opens for new possibilities to act for social change. This reflexive essay departs from the notion that the language of exhaustion offers a wor(l)dly possibility for social work(ers) to engage in critical analytical reflexivity about our locations of power from the outset of our (g)local environment worlds. The aim is to trace the transformative possibilities of social change in social work practice through the literature of exhaustion (eg. Frichot, 2019; Spooner, 2011). The methodology is based on uses of narrative life writing genres such as poetry, written and photographic diary entrances between the 4th of April and 4th of June. The essay shows how tracing exhaustion during the pandemic, visualises a multiplicity of forms of oppression and privilege, an increasing attention and relationship to things, and border movements and languages. I suggest that social work replace the often-used terminology of social problems with exhaustive lists to address structural forms of racism, sexism, ableism, ageism, which has been further visualized through death, illness, violence, and poverty during the pandemic. I argue that the language of exhaustion is useful for reflexivity and action in social workpractice through the way it contributes to intensified awareness, attention, engagement, listening, and agency to create social justice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQualitative Social Work
Volume20
Issue number1-2
Pages (from-to)54-62
Number of pages9
ISSN1473-3250
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • Critical reflection
  • narrative
  • photography
  • poetry
  • social justice
  • social work practice
  • 5145 Social work

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