Seeing anew: drawing on a psychosocial approach to consider vulnerability as a virtue for knowing

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Psychosocial thinking has a long association with social work, guiding practitioners to take account of the individual’s inner world of emotion and feeling, together with the outer world of relationships and events that serve to create it. Straddling these two interconnected spheres, Social Workers find themselves in a unique position as ‘knowers’ as they endeavour to make sense of the lives and experiences of others – in much the same way as many social
science researchers. This article explores how a psychosocial approach can help develop a reflexive awareness of the self and others, thereby creating opportunities for new ways of seeing. In doing so, it provides an original analysis of how vulnerability might offer space to enhance knowing, where greater ontological consideration is given to unconscious and structural influences that
help shape the subject positions of both knowledge seeker and subject. References to social work practice and psychosocial research also help to re-frame the connections between emic and etic standpoints, showing how it is possible to narrow the epistemological distance between the two. In this novel sense, vulnerability is viewed as a virtue for knowing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-445
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Social Work Practice
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Social Work Practice on 15/10/20, available online:


  • Psychosocial
  • reflexivity
  • self-awareness
  • social work
  • unconscious
  • vulnerability


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