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Alternative Title

Critical discourse analysis of "Social justice" in Social service review, 1927-2013

Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School for Social Work


Social service review (Chicago, Ill.), Social justice, Critical discourse analysis, Social work discourse, Discourse analysis


This project is a critical discourse analysis of the usage of the term "social justice" in American social work. The project analyzed "social justice" discourse over the nearly 90-year publication history of one of America’s oldest and most prominent peer-reviewed social work journals, Social Service Review. The paper argues that "social justice" is consistently deployed in a way that both invokes its centrality/essentiality to social work and simultaneously splits off the concept from social work’s professional activities. "Social justice" appears as a nebulous and undefined term that is often affixed to discourses of individual identity, sentiment and history, and is routinely positioned outside of social work’s present-tense professional competencies. Thus, rather than constituting a solid foundation and core value of American social work, "social justice" is a term which bears the trace of social work’s unease with its status as a professional practice and field of knowledge production.




iii, 43 pages. Includes bibliographical references (pages 35-43)