Lisa Watt

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Jane Aronson




For the past decade, many Schools of Social Work across Canada have incorporated the anti-oppressive perspective in their course curriculum, despite the many contentions within the profession. Drawing upon my experience as a student of colour in a School of Social Work, this study adopted a qualitative research approach (Mason, 2002) in exploring the experiences of four white students and four students of colour at the McMaster University School of Social Work as they learn about anti-oppressive perspective, in particular, the impact of students' racial identities in their learning. Their reflections shed light on what can be done to support students' learning. The students in this study described the process of learning anti-oppressive perspective as "eye-opening". They expressed that critical reflectivity on their implicated role in the complex network of systemic power relations as indispensable to their learning, but also very challenging and unsettling. The process is full of ambiguities and contradictions, especially when situated in a society filled with contesting ideologies where oppressive practices are often masked with egalitarian i values. Students referred to processes that nourish or hamper the development o~ critical reflectivity. In turn, this elucidated the importance of an education that will illuminate complexities and ambiguities so as to equip students to face the challenges of their future and to work creatively to eliminate oppression.

McMaster University Library

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