Book review: Mastering Approaches to Diversity in Social Work


Mastering Approaches to Diversity in Social Work.

Linda Gast and Anne Patmore. 2012.
London: Jessica Kingsley.

Reviewed by Malcolm Wallis, DementiaSA

This book is part of a series (Mastering Social Work Skills). It has little to say about dementia which does not even merit a listing in the index. But it addresses an important concern: how should social workers cope with the diversity they encounter in the environment where they exercise their skills and carry the burden of heavy responsibilities. The book is largely based on the UK but the issues discussed are not totally at odds with the South African situation. For example, the authors see ethnicity as a major factor in many settings. As such it cannot be ignored either in theory or practice. However, we must avoid assuming that ethnicity is the sole form of diversity. Gender, sexual preference and disability, for example, cannot be left on one side. The book draws on important research conducted in a number of countries. The major contribution of Hofstede who wrote extensively on culture is given particular attention.

What I found particularly valuable is the authors’ device of posing key questions (‘points to consider’) for readers to discuss and reflect upon. There are also many case studies based on experience which struck me as likely to interest readers. For example, there are case studies about disabled service users and writing reports on difficulties experienced in families. This approach makes for a substantially more inter active text, an approach that might be usefully adopted for study in a number of fields.

Despite the absence of dementia as a topic, the book may be useful in social work, a field of endeavour which very often requires an understanding of diversity, an important aspect of which is dementia.

The book is obtainable from DementiaSA. It is priced at 280.00