We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $78.99

392 pp.
23 photos; 16 figures; 4 tables, 7" x 9"


Copyright Year:

Imprint: OUP Canada

Anti-Oppressive Social Work

Ways of Knowing, Talking, and Doing

Gary C. Dumbrill and June Ying Yee

Anti-oppressive social work practice skilfully explained through personal narrative, theory, and practical exercises.

With a blend of personal narrative, theory, and exercises, this text helps provide a deep understanding of society and its power relationships so students can apply anti-oppression to their everyday lives and their future practice.

Readership : Suitable for college and university students in mid- to upper-level social work courses on social work theory and practice; critical approaches to social work practice; diversity and oppression; anti-oppressive practice; and power, privilege, and oppression.


  • "[The text] weaves story, theory, and practice together so that the reader has a very thorough understanding of oppression-its forms and its impacts."
    --Carmen Plante, Red Deer College

  • "This text is an excellent tool and a must for all new social workers entering the field. It provides a solid foundation of learning in which students can build upon. After reading this text, students will have an increase in confidence in their ability to identify personal levels of oppression and in the lives of the service users they work with."
    --Derek Chewka, MacEwan University

  • "This text presents a highly engaging and particularly applicable format for anti-oppressive practice. The authors have balanced theoretical details with tangible activities and reflections. The chapters are well organized and challenge the reader to engage in AOP in a thoughtful, respectful, and ethical method."
    --Debashis Dutta, Conestoga College and Renison University College

Note: All chapters include:
- Introduction
- Chapter summary
- Discussion questions
- Activity
- Suggested resources
- References
1. What Are Oppression and Anti-Oppression?
What is Anti-Oppression?
What is Oppression?
How Social Workers Use the Term "Oppression"
Oppression through Personal Prejudice
Oppression through Systems
Oppression through Culture
The Basis of Oppression
Naming and Challenging Oppression
Understanding Oppression in Practice
2. Thinking Critically about What We Know and How We Know It
What is Critical Thinking?
Theory and Understanding in Social Work
Understanding Assumptions That Underlie Theory
The Problem of Science
The Potential of Science in Social Work
Politics, Paradigms, and Self-Reflection
How Does All This Relate to Everyday Social Work Practice?
Critical Thinking in Practice
3. Thinking Critically about Power and Politics
The Machinery of Power, Influence, and Control
Power over, Power to, and Power with
How Power Operates in Social Work
Power and Ruling Relations
A Challenge to the Ruling Elite: We Are the 99%
Postmodernism and Power
Pierre Bourdieu's View of Power
Social Work Ruling Relations
The Power of Love
Mr. Jones's Case Analysis
4. Whiteness: What It Is and Why We Have to Understand It
A Topography of Domination
Maintaining Domination
Things That Oppression Does
Whiteness: The Operating System at the Centre of the Circle
White Supremacy: The Power behind Whiteness
How the Dominance of Whiteness is Maintained
White Privilege
Locating Yourself
5. Isms and Intersectionality - Part I: Racism and Sexism
Sexism, Women's Rights, and Feminism
6. Isms and Intersectionality - Part II: Heterosexism and Cissexism, Ableism, and Sanism
Heterosexism and Cissexism
7. From Colonization to Decolonization
Undoing Colonization
Settler Colonization
The Importance of Two Row Wampum and Other Treaties
The Professor and Raven
Key Concepts in Decolonization
Has Anti-Oppression Been Effective in Decolonization?
So What Is the Anti-Oppressive Social Worker to Do about Colonization?
8. The Problem of Poverty, Class, Capital, and the Social Order
Inequality and the Social Order
Poverty in the Global South
Poverty in the Global North
A Tale of Multiple Capitals, Doxa, and Domination
Neoliberalism: The Game That Rules
The Problem of the Existing Social Order
9. Doing Anti-Oppression: The Social Work Dream
What is Anti-Oppression?
Naming Anti-Oppression, Anti-Racism, and Initiatives against Anti-Black Racism
A Shift in the Field from Anti-Racism to Anti-Oppression
What Was Wrong with Anti-Racism, and What Is Wrong with Anti-Oppression
Anti-Oppression Is the Social Work Dream, Not an Optional Extra
10. Without Service Users' Theory There Is No Anti-Oppression
Talking about a Revolution
Service Users' Knowledge and Theory
Why Service Users' Theory is Essential in Anti-Oppression
Drawing upon Service Users' Theory and Knowledge
Things to Avoid When Utilizing Service Users' Knowledge and Theory
How Service Users' Knowledge and Theory Tap into the Word on the Street
A Service Users' Guide: Why Knowledge Is Not Enough
A Service Users' Union: An Answer to Social Work Power
Plans for a Service Users' Union
11. How to Do Anti-Oppression with Individuals, Families, and Communities
Why You Can't Do Anti-Oppression from Here
Anti-Oppressive Starting Points That Work
The Need for Action
We Need Systemic Success
12. How to Do Anti-Oppression at Organizational and Policy Levels
The Organizational Context
The Need for Organizational Change
The Problem of Whiteness and Dominance in Organizations
The Challenge of Change
Starting Where the Organization Is At
Why Anti-Oppressive Change is beyond Agency Control
A Model for Anti-Oppressive Organizational Change
13. Where to from Here: Innovations and Hopes for the Future
Looking Back: A Recap
Consolidating Lessons
Thank Goodness Help Has Arrived!
You Can't Get There from Here without a Service Users' Union
The Academy Must Change
The Need for Truth and Reconciliation
Grounding Anti-Oppression in Love

E-Book ISBN 9780199023721
Loose Leaf ISBN 9780199034505

Gary C. Dumbrill is an associate professor at the School of Social Work at McMaster University. His research and teaching focuses on child welfare, service users' theory, and anti-oppressive practice. His articles have appeared in journals like Child Abuse and Neglect, Children and Youth Services Review, Child Welfare, and Social Work Education: The International Journal. As well, he has co-authored a chapter with June Ying Yee in Al-Krenawi et al.'s Diversity and Social Work in Canada (OUP, 2016) and written chapters for books from Fernwood Publishing and Haworth Press. Gary's awards include McMaster Students Union Teaching Awards (2004-2005, 2011-2012) and the President's Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning (2013).

June Ying Yee is an associate professor and academic coordinator of the Internationally Educated Social Work Professionals Bridging Program at the School of Social Work and G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University. Her research focuses on race and racism, anti-colonialism, and access and equity issues. June's many awards include Ryerson's Deans' Teaching Award (2017) and Professor of the Year Award for excellence in research, teaching, and scholarship (2002), as well as co-recipient of the Ontario Association of Social Workers' Inspirational Leaders Award (2008). In 2013-2014, she received the Best Conceptual Article designation from Social Work Education: The International Journal for her co-authored article titled "Is Anti-Oppression Teaching in Canadian Schools of Social Work a Form of Neo-Liberalism?" June has also authored reports and evaluations for various children's aid societies across Ontario and has worked with the Ontario Child Welfare Anti-Oppression Roundtable to create an anti-oppression framework for child welfare.

Challenging Oppression and Confronting Privilege - Bob Mullaly and Juliana West
The New Structural Social Work: Ideology, Theory, and Practice - Bob Mullaly and Marilyn Dupré
Advocacy in Practice - Shelley Rempel
Social Policy in Canada - Ernie Lightman and Naomi Lightman
Connecting Policy to Practice in the Human Services - Brad McKenzie and The late Brian Wharf
Modern Social Work Theory - Malcolm Payne

Special Features

  • Balance of theory and practice helps students connect theoretical concepts to real-world anti-oppressive practice.
  • Real-life personal narratives bring key concepts to life based on the authors' own experiences of oppression and anti-oppressive practice.
  • Explores specific forms of oppression, including racism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, sanism, colonization, and more.
  • Thoughtful discussion of service users' theory describes the importance of creating partnerships with service users.
  • Key Concept boxes provide stepping stones for further understanding and application of concepts to students' everyday lives and future careers.
  • In-chapter exercises use social media links to provide students with meaningful opportunities to explore nuances of oppression and to practice critical self-reflection.
  • Contemporary examples and references reflect the most current research and thinking about anti-oppressive practice for today's social work students.
  • Engaging end-of-chapter pedagogy - including discussion questions, activities, and suggested resources - helps students further explore issues and ideas.