Contextualised resistance: The mediating power of paradigmatic frameworks

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An examination of resistance to the neoliberal dominance over public welfare organisations' operation reveals a situation of stagnation, with the call for critical resistance translated into either sporadic minor practices of isolated professionals or theoretical manifestos that demand major change, but have inadequate effect on policy. Drawing from Sanford Schram's framework of radical incrementalism as a possible challenge to neoliberal hegemony, this study traces the implementation of the Poverty-Aware Social Work paradigm in the Israeli welfare system. Building on 16 interviews with senior agents at the Israeli Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services, this study demonstrates the significance of this critical framework in allowing different agents to challenge the hegemonic standpoint of the Ministry. Thus, it offers a preliminary conceptualisation of contextualised resistance, which operates in the mediated sphere of power exertion, granting minor practices sufficient presence to pave the way for new opportunities for major policy change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)802-814
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author wishes to thank Prof. Michal Krumer-Nevo for her insightful remarks on earlier versions of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • critical social work
  • policy
  • poverty-aware social work paradigm
  • radical incrementalism
  • resistance


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