Vol. 1 No. 1 (2023): Abolitionist Perspectives in Social Work

A New World Cannot be Built Alone: An Abolitionist Framework for Collective Action in Social Work

Melanie Sonsteng-Person
University of Florida, College of Education

Published 09/29/2023


  • abolition,
  • collective action,
  • tranformative justice,
  • social work education


States across the U.S. are increasingly passing anti-CRT and anti-trans policies, most of which have begun to pervade institutions of higher education, igniting a concerning trend that is harming our communities, clients, students, and each other. While social work has been quick to name the harms of the systems with which we engage, it fails to address the mechanisms underlying those systems. To better aid schools of social work to move toward meaningful action, this conceptual article presents an abolitionist framework for collective action that highlights how social work schools and educators can resist performative responses to legislative terror. This framework calls for social work to take on the role of fugitive as we critically examine, disrupt, and disinvest from harmful power structures in social work. By adopting an abolitionist approach to collective action, schools of social work can better prepare faculty and students to engage in collective action for a more just society.