Pressure Drop: Securitising and De-Securitising Safeguarding


This article explores how securitization theory is mobilised in contemporary social work discourse, policy and practice. We draw on recent child protection research to support our claim that a new practice issue, described previously as securitised safeguarding, has emerged. We demonstrate its emergence using securitization theory as a conceptual mode of analysis to describe how a securitised safeguarding response depicts particular families as an existential threat, which in turn, prompts a response characterised by forms of muscular liberalism. We argue that this emerging practice issue requires critical consideration and suggest it will have a significant impact on social work; one that is unlikely to be beneficial for the profession and more importantly, families being worked with. By describing a process of de-securitisation, we offer an alternative and more nuanced approach, that perceives families holistically, and mobilises a welfare safeguarding model. This more closely resembles traditional social work values of emancipation, liberation and empowerment within social work practice.

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Copyright holder         © 2020 ANZASW

  McKendrick, D. and Finch, J. 2020. Pressure Drop: Securitising and De-Securitising Safeguarding. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work . 32 (1), p. 61–72.