Silvia Fargion (PhD University of Edinburgh, 2001) is Professor of Social Work and Sociology at the University of Trento in the Department of Psychology and Cognitive Science. She previously taught at Freie Universität Bozen. Silvia combines experiences as a social worker and as an academic researcher. Her research interests focus primarily on social work interventions with children and families, and in this field she has studied social workers culture and practices and social work methods. Her research approach is focused on participatory research providing a space for the voice and perspectives of marginalized subjects. She has participated in, and often directed, several research projects, e.g. on bottom up strategies to define quality in social work, access to social services, social work and parent support. She is currently Principal Investigator in an Italian national research project studying constructions of parenting on insecure grounds, which explores the experiences of parents and social workers in challenging circumstances. Her publications include three major monographs in Italian and several articles in leading journals including Journal of Family Studies, European Journal of Social Work, Social Policy & Administration, Research on Social Work Practice.
Silvia Fargion has been among the founders of ESWRA, and has served as its second Chair. She is currently the chair of the correspondent Italian Association (SOCISS) and the chief editor of La Rivista di Servizio Sociale (Italian Journal of Social Work).
Social work research, voice and epistemic injustice
The pandemic has posed us many new problems. In particular, there is wide acknowledgment that it has not only worsened, but also exposed many plagues of our society: in a paper for Qualitative Social Work, Finn Mclafferty Bell effectively defined the pandemic as an amplifier of injustice. Inequalities have been increased and made evident in various forms, from the way the pandemic has hit different social groups, to the way disinvestment in social and heath services has affected mostly those in a vulnerable position. Emergencies sometimes lead us to prioritize material problems and scarcity of resources: in my talk I want to focus on how this pandemic has actually further revealed inequality in voice. I will look in particular at vulnerable families and parenting. These represent crucial areas in social work practice and research, which I have researched extensively in the last few years. Family life and parenting have been strongly affected by structural and social inequalities, particularly those related to gender. These have been exacerbated, and at the same time legitimized, by the subtle growing dominance of the neoliberal discourse. Neoliberalism is affecting how we make sense of intimate relationships, the culture in social institutions relevant to parents and children, and the way they interact with each other. Drawing on the concept of epistemic injustice by critical philosopher Miranda Fricker, I will address the issue of the voice of marginalized subjects, particularly in an emergency. One key feature of social work research, and a defining attribute of social work identity, is the central place assigned to subjects, to their perspectives and empowerment. This pandemic has generated a lot of talk about the difficulties faced by the weakest social groups, also due to the overwhelming role of social media; however, genuine participation, listening and dialogue have been limited, if at all present. Analyzing the outcome of an ongoing research project I will discuss how mothers and fathers in vulnerable positions have been listened to in social work , and what part social work research can play in getting their voices recognized, and increasing their participation in society.
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