Autoethnography and social work: Strange bedfellows or complementary partners?




autoethnography, social work


Abstract: Despite autoethnography’s congruence with social work’s values and aims, such as its focus on social justice and marginalized lives, there has been a dearth of publications using autoethnography in social work journals and books. Possible reasons for this situation include the dominance of conventional research, institutional barriers, and the challenges of conducting an autoethnographic study such as writing in a more reflexive, literary, and narrative style. I describe the strengths of autoethnography in relation to social work research, practice, and education, using examples from my early experiences with autoethnography and my later use of autoethnography as an approach to educational enrichment. Although autoethnography has much to offer social work and should assume a more prominent position as an approach to inquiry and professional development, I question whether this will occur without changes to current academic, institutional, and philosophical views. Nevertheless, focusing attention on autoethnography as in this special issue seems like a promising development.

Author Biography

Stanley Witkin, Professor Emeritus of Social Work, University of Vermont, USA

Stanley Witkin is Professor Emeritus of Social Work at the University of Vermont, USA, Adjunct Professor in the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, USA, and President of the Global Partnership for Transformative Social Work (


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How to Cite

Witkin, S. (2022). Autoethnography and social work: Strange bedfellows or complementary partners?. Social Work and Social Sciences Review, 23(2), 19-35.