Pressure drop: Securitising and de-securitising safeguarding


  • David McKendrick Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland
  • Jo Finch University of East London, England



Securitisation theory, safeguarding, discourse, social work, de-securitisation


INTRODUCTION: This article explores how securitisation theory is mobilised in contemporary social work discourse, policy and practice. We draw on recent child protection research to support our claim that a new practice issue, described previously as securitised safeguarding, has emerged.

APPROACH: We demonstrate its emergence using securitisation theory as a conceptual mode of analysis to describe how a securitised safeguarding response depicts particular families as an existential threat which, in turn, prompts a response characterised by forms of muscular liberalism.

CONCLUSIONS: We argue that this emerging practice issue requires critical consideration and suggest it will have a significant impact on social work – one that is unlikely to be beneficial for the profession and, more importantly, families being worked with. By describing a process of de-securitisation, we offer an alternative and more nuanced approach that perceives families holistically, and mobilises a welfare safeguarding model. This more closely resembles traditional social work values of emancipation, liberation and empowerment within social work practice.


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How to Cite

McKendrick, D., & Finch, J. (2020). Pressure drop: Securitising and de-securitising safeguarding. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 32(1), 61–72.



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