Critical consciousness in critical social work: Learning from the theatre of the oppressed

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This article offers an exploration of Paulo Frei re's concept of critical consciousness as it pertains to critical social work (CSW) and suggests that practical methods towards achieving critical consciousness are lacking, especially in direct intervention with individuals. Paying tribute to the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, the writer argues that barriers to critical consciousness include the influence of mass media and the entertainment industry, anxiety around critical thinking and conformist social values. Based on a consideration of these barriers, and relying on the original Freirean concept of critical consciousness, the writer offers an adaptation of the methods of Augusto Boa I's Theatre of the Oppressed in order to address critical consciousness in direct intervention with individuals. These methods are explored and discussed in relation to the core values of CSW.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1776-1792
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Author. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved.


  • Augusto Boal
  • Critical consciences
  • Critical social work
  • Direct intervention
  • Theatre of the Oppressed


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