‘Normative’ generally means relating to an evaluative standard and normativity is generally viewed as the phenomenon in human societies of designating some actions or outcomes as good or desirable or permissible and others as bad or undesirable or impermissible. VSNT.live’s faculty and resident philosopher Todd May begins the next chapter of the theoretical/practice series discussing the practices of societal norms, normatively and two kinds of normal. The discussion runs though varies positions of reflection and reflexivity necessary for maintaining narrative practice values. Guests include VSNT faculty and VSNT.live members.

Social Work Professors and narrative therapists Harjeet Badwall & David Rock Nylund discuss the history of racist structures and experience in Social Work Practice and Education.

An excerpt for Harjeet’s paper we will be discussing:

Theoretically, my research was anchored in race theory (critical race scholarship, post-colonial studies), post-structural feminism, and critical race scholars who utilize Foucauldian concepts of discourse, power, subject-formation, and governmentality.

These theoretical entry points enabled me to examine the racial foundations upon which social work as a profession is produced (Jeffery, 2002), in addition to exploring the experiences of social workers of colour as they negotiate both a racist profession and racist environments.

My central aim was to trace the ongoing mechanisms of whiteness in social work in order to reveal the ways in which racialized bodies are regulated through discourses that re-centre whiteness within the profession. Through the use of race scholarship I examined how racism is integral to modernity and the liberal project, the formation of the state, and white dominance in social work (Goldberg, 1993, Hesse, 2004; Jeffery, 2002).

Todd May: VSNT.live’s faculty and resident philosopher continues the next chapter of the theoretical/practice series discussing the intersecting practices of societal norms, normativity and two kinds of normal through Michel Foucault and other philosophers. The discussion will also address various positions of reflection and reflexivity necessary for maintaining narrative practice values within the therapy room and supervision. Guests include VSNT faculty and VSNT.live members.

After 17 years working in Vancouver Canada’s Downtown Eastside, Aaron Munro’s highly unique and courageously inventive practice ideas have been studied by mental health systems all over the world and are now being discussed as more humane practices to consider inserting into refugee camps. In our third episode, Aaron guides us through a multitude of relational practices he learned from the homeless people he works with that led him to purposefully challenge and ingeniously disrupt former taken for granted ideas about ‘professional’ relationships with homeless people and managing homeless shelters.

Excerpt from Aaron’s new book Bad Manners (Summer of 2021):

I worked years ago in one project with a lot of folks struggling with what gets called “severe mental health” who were also drug users. One afternoon, one of the men who resided in this hotel came up to me and said, “I’m not feeling great Aaron. I’m feeling really paranoid”. I invited him to let me know more about this paranoid feeling. He replied, “I feel like people are watching me.” This may not seem like the most empathetic response, but I started to laugh and pointed out the many cameras in that hallway. I replied, “They probably are. In fact, there are probably two people in an office watching us right now”. The whole situation suddenly struck me as absolutely absurd and I couldn’t stop laughing. He looked at the cameras and started to laugh too. We sat down together and started to map out all the places where people are watching him on camera where he has to go: the Ministry of Social Assistance Office, every food line, his home, the clinic he attends, where he picks up his medication, his low-income friends’ homes—you get the idea. We talked about whether paranoia might actually not be paranoia and maybe he was actually under constant surveillance by people with more power than he had.

After 17 years working in Vancouver Canada’s Downtown Eastside, Aaron Munro’s highly unique and courageously inventive practice ideas have been studied by mental health systems all over the world and are now being discussed as more humane practices to consider inserting into refugee camps. In our third episode, Aaron guides us through a multitude of relational practices he learned from the homeless people he works with that led him to purposefully challenge and ingeniously disrupt former taken for granted ideas about ‘professional’ relationships with homeless people and managing homeless shelters.

The Media’s Role in Defining the Un-housed Narrative, Aaron writes:

In my experience Media has the largest role is disrupting or creating the narrative about both un-housed people and the friction between housed and un-housed people. Journalists have the ability to write a detailed story that creates a larger contextual frame of a problem offering the general public more information to ponder social issues. Media also have the ability to only ‘listen to the loudest voices’ of decent and amplifying an often dominant narrative about the un-housed causing no social change and – increasing fear in our community. Journalists don’t just write a story, they create it. I have met with a lot of great Media people throughout my work, people dedicated to the truth. I have also met a lot of people dedicated to their own political leanings who slant the story for their cause or to increase their own notoriety.

Social Work Professors and narrative therapists Harjeet Badwall & David Rock Nylund discuss white normativity within the profession and how to account for the history of racist structures and experience in Social Work Practice and Education.

An excerpt from Harjeet’s paper we will be discussing:

Theoretically, my research was anchored in race theory (critical race scholarship, post-colonial studies), post-structural feminism, and critical race scholars who utilize Foucauldian concepts of discourse, power, subject-formation, and governmentality. These theoretical entry points enabled me to examine the racial foundations upon which social work as a profession is produced (Jeffery, 2002), in addition to exploring the experiences of social workers of colour as they negotiate both a racist profession and racist environments. My central aim was to trace the ongoing mechanisms of whiteness in social work in order to reveal the ways in which racialized bodies are regulated through discourses that re-centre whiteness within the profession. Through the use of race scholarship I examined how racism is integral to modernity and the liberal project, the formation of the state, and white dominance in social work (Goldberg, 1993, Hesse, 2004; Jeffery, 2002).

Todd May begins this long play theoretical series on the philosophical ideas of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. In Todd’s mind, Merleau-Ponty represents the missing theoretical link in narrative therapy’s philosophical framework. His theorizing of the body allows us to bring together Michel Foucault’s non-individualist view and the lived reality of our corporeal existence.  These conversations seek to offer a way into Merleau-Ponty’s often elusive writings on the body.