Technicist education: paving the way for the rise of the social work robots?

Critical and Radical Social Work 7 (2):139-154 (2019)
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This article seeks to explicate one form of technical rationality (ie the technological development of robotics) in social work education and practice. As advances in robotics evolve, questions are raised about the role of technicist education in reducing social work practice to a set of tasks that are repeatable, formulaic and linear (ie tasks that robots are capable of performing). We conduct a critical synthesis of the literature to explore how these parallel processes potentially create a seamless transition for social robots to replace the human social work workforce. Our analysis suggests that social workers need to reclaim a broader understanding of social work education and practice if we intend to retain human social work practitioners into the future. We argue that this is vital because critical social work practitioners are more capable than robots of meeting the espoused social justice values of social work.



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Phillip Ablett
University of the Sunshine Coast

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