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Appreciating the Fear of Conflict and the Possibilities in Disagreement

journal contribution
posted on 08.11.2021, 22:32 authored by Mark Furlong, Lisa BrophyLisa Brophy
Abstract
The present contribution seeks to strengthen the capacity of social workers to respond to the experience of potential or actual conflict. In this project, an initial stage involved scanning the available literature. This process yielded two general findings: (i) most of the available literature is specialist in nature and (ii) the available social work literature concentrates on conflicts between workers and clients. The second stage in the exercise develops a set of linguistic distinctions, for example that disagreement can be distinguished from confrontation. Building on this set, three vignettes are examined as concrete sites in which formulations of, and responses to, conflict are developed. An outline of symmetrical and complementary processes is then introduced. This theoretical material is central at the consideration of a final, more complex vignette—an engagement that consolidates, and then extends, the themes developed earlier in the paper. A general proposition is raised: deliberately engaging with the issue of conflict offers opportunities for personal and professional growth. More specifically, it is suggested that those who tend to avoid conflict can usefully experiment with leaning into, rather than away from, disagreement whilst those who tend towards directness can usefully practice behaviours that engage with difference more obliquely.

History

Publication Date

19/07/2021

Journal

The British Journal of Social Work

Publisher

Oxford University Press (OUP)

ISSN

0045-3102

Rights Statement

The Author reserves all moral rights over the deposited text and must be credited if any re-use occurs. Documents deposited in OPAL are the Open Access versions of outputs published elsewhere. Changes resulting from the publishing process may therefore not be reflected in this document. The final published version may be obtained via the publisher’s DOI. Please note that additional copyright and access restrictions may apply to the published version.

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