Non-Fiction Books:

Voices from the Coalface

Practitioner Perspectives on the Challenges of Community-Based Work



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Voices from the Coalface
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Across Australia the field of social and community-based work is undergoing a significant push toward professionalisation. One only needs to look at the level of tertiary interest in these fields, and the saturation of university courses, to get a sense of this phenomenon. In addition to various units where "practice" and the operations of community-based work are of central concern, a majority of Australian universities and TAFE institutes now offer as a core part of their programs an intensive period of fieldwork practice. However, there are few, if any, books where students and teachers can explore the actual experience of practice in the field. This arises from two fairly obvious conditions. First, that practice is something that cannot be easily rendered into writing. Second, that practice is typically recorded by academics in a scholarly way or conveyed by practitioners either in the course of their doing, or in the compilation of case studies and in the reflective stages of evaluation. The contributors to this volume present a unique series of insights into the lives and challenges of practitioners engaged in community based work. Each has, in their own way, provided a snapshot of front-line work in its most immediate and contemporary form. In the field of practical experience of today these are the voices least heard, not because they are by any measure the least qualified, or the least engaged, but because somehow in the socialized division of labor it has been the professional academic who has crafted much of the literature on the subject while those who practice continue to do precisely that. This is not to suggest that the professional academic is operating from the safe terrain of an indifferent and overly cerebral "ivory tower." To the contrary, it has been the measure of good scholarship that the subject under question be examined close up and with an eye to engaging the field with as little distance as is practically possible.
Release date NZ
November 18th, 2008
Edited by John R. Owen
Illustrations, black and white
Common Ground Publishing
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