A Revision of Social Work Practice: Conceptualising Cultural Trauma and the Role of Social Workers in South African Under-Resourced Communities
Keywords:cultural trauma, intergenerational trauma, social work curriculum, social work
The experience of both historical and intergenerational trauma creates challenges for a large portion of South African communities. Poverty and inequality are the key drivers of violence, an issue affecting many South Africans. These issues present a challenge to social workers who work in under-resourced communities. The purpose of this article is to focus on the presence of social challenges in three communities, namely, Helenvale, Alexandra and Lavender Hill in South Africa from a point of historical disruptions manifesting in social problems. It broadens the lenses through which social workers view the challenges of service users, in turn creating the opportunity for social workers to develop more empathy through a lens of cultural and intergenerational trauma. Using a descriptive case study, the research draws on the profiles of the above communities. This is done through a document analysis of a sample of academic literature, public documents and news reports about the communities. The article looks at their historical formation and manifestations of cultural disruption through social ills resulting in ongoing exposure to trauma for community members. A thematic analysis was conducted, and themes were identified and strengthened through existing literature and theoretical perspectives on cultural and intergenerational trauma. These themes are (a) experience of forced removals or relocations, (b) manifestations of social problems, (c) exposure to intergenerational trauma, and (d) ongoing cumulative marginalisation.
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