Professional Resistance in Social Work: Counterpractice Assemblages

Roni Strier, Orit Breshtling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The goal of this article is to deepen understanding of the concept of professional resistance. Studies show that social workers in various parts of the world are increasingly confronted with regulations, programs, and policies that challenge their ability to carry out their professional mission in an ethical manner. Social workers may also find themselves under the pressure of periodic retrenchment resulting from budgetary constraints and subjected to worsening working conditions and threats of wage or social benefit reduction. Therefore, it is not surprising that social workers are sometimes required to engage in actions to oppose these negative realities or, in other words, to practice professional resistance. However, despite its growing relevance, the term "professional resistance" remains both theoretically obscure and marginal to social work practice. This article traces the presence of the concept in social work history, examines divergent uses of the concept in social work literature, introduces theoretical perspectives that may help practitioners enlarge their professional repertoire, provides concrete cases of resistance in different contexts, and finally proposes some paths to professional resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-118
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Work
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 National Association of Social Workers.


  • critical social work
  • oppression
  • resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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