Global Inequalities And Social Work
Globalization is generally understood as a natural evolutionary process resulting from developments and breakthroughs in computer science and telecommunications but Stiglitz (2002) prefers to see it as the globalization of the economy and the removal of barriers to ‘free trade’ . The writer and activist Susan George suggests that neoliberalism, the economic ideology which has been promoted over the past two decades by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation is based on a set of three fundamental freedoms: freedom of investment; freedom of capital flows; and freedom of trade in all goods and all services including living organisms and intellectual property (George 2001).Two main arguments have been put forward in defence of this ideology. The first is simply that there is no alternative to capitalism, that capitalism ‘is the only game in town’ and the only metric in measuring progress. The second main justification of capitalism is that everyone will benefit from the neoliberal policies pursued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Bank, that in a rising tide, small boats rise as well as big tankers. Wealth will ‘trickle down’ from the wealthiest nations to the poorest.
That is an argument that is increasingly rejected by millions of people throughout the world including leading establishment figures. In a biting critique of the effects of globalisation, for example, Joseph Stiglitz, chief economist at the World Bank and Nobel prize-winner for economics in 2001 has argued that Liberalization has thus too often, not been followed by the promised growth but by increased misery. And even those who have not lost their jobs have been hit by a heightened sense of insecurity (Stiglitz 2002) . According to Stiglitz (2002) such notion is laughable , beacuse the idea of globalization is a form of global expansion of transnational capital based on a new international division of labor, in which commodities lose their nationality and cannot be considered as coming from any particular country.
As if to agree with the assertions made by Stiglitz (2002), the Latin American Economic System (SELA) lamented that globalization has an underhand tactic , which is simply a new form of colonialism that has come to replace the old fashioned forms of domination by a more sophisticated model which hinders the even distribution of wealth and increases the concentration of power and capital. SELA fingers the main institutions of this dominance to be the WTO, IMF, and World Bank who create, promulgate, and enforce all details of their criteria for ruling the world. Once a rule is adopted by the group then the rest of the world has no options to appeal their decisions and the right to petition for relieve is abolished from their organizations.In order to understand globalization , it is poignant to take a cursory look into neoliberalism because globization has been going on since the start of the industrial revolution two hundred years ago. But, neoliberalism created a new form of the word that should be made clearer.
From a progressive perspective, neoliberalism has become one of the most important explanatory models for understanding what is going on in the world. We understand neoliberalism not as an economic doctrine, but rather as a phase in the development of capitalism that imposes an understanding of the world and organizes society as a market. Chomsky (2001) points out that the essential feature of the globalized world is the imposition of a way of thinking of a means of conceiving the world, society, the production and distribution of goods, and the relations between nations ― that is known as neoliberalism and has become the economic paradigm of our time. It is a form of global government without a global State, in which a group of institutions closely linked to large corporate financial interests dominate the world to satisfy their goals and to maintain control of societal life by private interests, with a single objective: to maximize their profits and benefits.
Neoliberalism affects the societies of the world negatively , because one of the basic features of the globalized world is the concentration of capital and the increase in inequity and poverty. Neoliberal globalization has made the rich richer and the poor poorer. In the last decade the poor have come to make up more than one third of all humanity and have increased at an exponential rate. Today, 2.5 billion wallows in abject penury . This is the paradox of a world that grows richer as it produces ever greater wealth, but concentrates it in ever fewer hands.In contrast to the assumption made by many theoreticians and institutions around the world, the fundamental problem and the greatest obstacle to development is, of course, not poverty (which is understood to be a symptom of the problem) but the unbalanced concentration of capital and the very unjust distribution of social wealth.From being conceived as social rights, health and education have become mechanisms for profit and private investment, opening up the possibility that large amounts of money which was previously regulated by the State can now be managed by finance capitalists. Health and education have come to represent some of the most attractive and profitable markets, with international institutions among their most active promoters.
Neoliberalism promotes a range of policies to further its interests at the expense of the societies of world , this incudes :
It is however very glaring that neoliberalism isn’t really for the benefit of the world as portrayed by its inventors , let’s look at how the ripple effects of neoliberalism affects social work specifically .
As stated above , one of the policies of neoliberalism is the deregulation of the labor market , industries in different countries of the world are shutting down , motivation to work is on a downward decline . The extent of that increased misery is vividly reflected in the Human Development Reports, produced each year by the United Nations. One of such reports indicated that in 54 countries average income actually declined in the 1990s and that in 21 countries, mainly in Africa, society went backwards on measures such as income and life expectancy. It is not only in Africa, however, that living standards have fallen. In Latin America, countries such as Ecuador, Venezuela and Paraguay have seen living standards fall over the last ten years, while Argentina, once the IMF’s ‘star student’ now lurches from crisis to crisis. Similar falls in living standards have also taken place in the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Russia itself. In addition, the global gulf between rich and poor has also grown over the past decade, with the richest 1% now having as much income as the poorest 57%. In human terms, this means that every day throughout the world, 30, 000 children die of preventable diseases (UN 2003).Civil unrest are becoming rampant resulting to displacement of persons across the globe as refugees, some people immigrate to other nation to seek greener pastures , and this poses as a challenge to the social worker as the professions involves working with newly arrived refugees and their families by helping them adjust to their new surroundings. This may include leading cultural orientations, providing job placement assistance, supporting clients through social services referrals and much more.
Neoliberalism bring about an ‘all man for himself’ ideology , this ideology in turn creates an highly competitive society, where the strong survives and the weak prong into depressions and become suicidal.Depression in this context may appear almost self-protective: an opt-out from an unwinnable set of continual competitions. The recent rise in diagnoses of mental illnesses and “developmental disorders” involving states of agitation and hyperstimulation is similarly interesting. In the case of ADHD, for example, a person’s hyperactivity and distractibility render them officially “disordered” or even disabled, to the extent that they are supposedly unable to cope with a hyperstimulating, late-capitalist environment. Yet they are, in another sense, entirely in tune with an economy of non-stop distraction, in which attention is repeatedly grabbed at and financially exploited.The world health organisation (W.H.O.) suggests that more than three hundred million people suffers from mental illness world wide. The Marxist professor of social work Iain Ferguson asserted that it is the economic and political system under which we live in (capitalism) is responsible for the high levels of mental problem in the world today . He holds that the alleviation of mental illness is only possible in a society devoid of neoliberalism. The structure of the society created through neoliberalism causes psychological issues which means increased demand on services and additional pressure on social work.
social work has been economized and subjected to the logic of market and profit. This is connected to strengthened methods and concepts of business management – the idea of running social work as a private business has made its entry into the field with promises of more effectiveness and efficiency and a more visible improvement of quality in social work. In the analysis of the economic processes within the social work profession since the 1990s, too little attention has been paid to the fact that the focus of efforts is not the wellbeing of the client or an improvement in the quality of the social work, but rather the preservation of resources. The economization of social work is a kind of Trojan horse. Professional social work has been made to follow objectives inimical to the profession: cost saving instead of providing help by promoting conditions of life conducive to the welfare of human beings. Strict housekeeping and costs – not a professional diagnosis – predominantly determine what is considered to be useful, efficient and feasible; as a rule, making successful savings is placed above success in providing help.
Maybe that was why Ferguson (2008) lamented that social work has become an agent of vested economic and political interests and needs to rediscover its formative commitment to social change. The growth of private practice has often been accompanied by calls for a return to community practice or public-sector service. In his book, focused mainly on social work in Britain, Ian Ferguson urges social workers to resist the pressures of managerialism that emanate from the British government’s acceptance of neoliberal ideas. One consequence of neo-liberal politics is the demolition of the welfare state. As a consequence, new social problems and focal points have emerged and with them more tasks for social work, yet resources have been either frozen or cut (Albert, 2006)
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