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An exploration of selected concepts from Judith Butler : with application to the understanding of gender identity in social work practice with marginalized female adolescents

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Title: An exploration of selected concepts from Judith Butler : with application to the understanding of gender identity in social work practice with marginalized female adolescents
Author: Hough, Amie Marie
Degree Master of Social Work - MSW
Program Social Work
Copyright Date: 2010
Publicly Available in cIRcle 2010-08-24
Abstract: Traditional notions of female adolescent development assume identity formation as a central issue that is achieved or solidified in order to reach a psycho-developmental milestone. While identity is traditionally theorised as being agentic in nature, the concept of identity itself remains in contention as it does not capture the fluidity of the interaction between the person and their environment, particularly if the environment is oppressive and exclusive. Consequently, this paper suggests how social work can incorporate innovative critical and post-structural theory when analysing the marginalised female adolescent, by introducing Judith Butler as a new voice for social work, whose work on gender identity the feminist critique has been argued to be some of the most important advancements in the area of feminist and political studies in the twentieth century (Lloyd, 2007). Butler‟s contribution to the area of gender politics, post-feminist and queer studies have been argued as groundbreaking and innovative, and thus I argue, should be included in social work practice and education, particularly when considering the impact of structure on the individual. To guide my inquiry, I have selected specific concepts from Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990, 1999) and Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex” (1993) to analyse the marginalised female experience in modern society. In Butler‟s popular texts, she discusses gender identity and its relation to performativity under regulatory discourse, and how intelligible subjects are formed under the heterosexual matrix and the masculine signifying economy. Furthermore, Butler‟s concept of subversion imparts important ideas about contesting oppressive structures, and honouring the diversity and dignity and worth of each person in society; principles that are congruent with social work values. I further suggest that Butler‟s concepts offer innovative ways to think about enduring issues in social work practice including: (1) social justice, (2) the power of discourse in the formation of oppression and exclusion, and (3) the acknowledgment of diversity. Finally, I seek to apply Butler‟s concepts to current social work practice with the marginalized female adolescent and to provide the reader with suggestions for future research and practice application.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/27691
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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