Master’s-level social work students’ definitions of intersectionality in relation to social work practice in Finland

Eveliina Heino*, Hanna Kara, Laura Tarkiainen, Maria Tapola-Haapala

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This article examines the essays of 14 Master’s-level social work students on intersectionality. Thematic analysis was employed to examine students’ understandings of how intersectionality can be applied in social work. The results show that students approached intersectionality as a tool in four distinctive ways: to understand service users’ experiences and their everyday lives, to self-reflect as a professional, to reflect upon issues of power in social work practice, and to understand the functioning of societal structures. Students also mentioned limitations to the intersectional approach, such as its lack of specificity and difficulty in applying intersectionality in practice when working with service users. The results indicate that intersectionality is a useful concept in social work education, providing students with important critical perspectives concerning power relations, normalization, and categorization relevant to social work practice. Yet, there is a danger that intersectionality is employed only with respect to service users, limited to positions of disadvantage, and used as a tool to distinguish between ‘us’ and ‘them’. The complexity of intersectionality requires specific guidelines for coursework assignments and the opportunity for students to discuss and reflect upon their learning outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Social Work Research
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Master’s-level social work students’ definitions of intersectionality in relation to social work practice in Finland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this