Postmodern theory in social work is a framework that challenges traditional assumptions and values related to power, knowledge, and truth. It emphasizes the importance of subjective experiences and recognizes the diversity of perspectives that exist within society. In this article, we will explore the key concepts of postmodern theory and their implications for social work practice.

What is Postmodern Theory?

Postmodern theory emerged in the late 20th century as a response to modernism, which emphasized rationality, objectivity, and progress. Postmodernism rejected the idea that there is one truth or reality that can be discovered through science or reason. Instead, it argued that knowledge is socially constructed and shaped by cultural, historical, and political factors.

Key Concepts

Some of the key concepts of postmodern theory include:

Implications for Social Work

Postmodern theory has important implications for social work practice. It challenges traditional notions of expertise and authority, recognizing that clients are experts on their own lives. Social workers must be aware of their own biases and privilege, as well as the power dynamics at play in their relationships with clients.

Postmodern theory also emphasizes the importance of narrative approaches to practice. Social workers should listen to clients’ stories and help them construct new narratives that challenge dominant discourses. This can involve questioning the assumptions and values that underpin social problems, and creating new meanings and possibilities.


Postmodern theory has been criticized for being too abstract and disconnected from real-world issues. Some argue that it undermines the importance of evidence-based practice and objective knowledge. Others suggest that it can be used to justify multiple perspectives, even those that are harmful or oppressive.


Despite these critiques, postmodern theory offers a valuable framework for social work practice. By challenging traditional assumptions and values, it encourages social workers to be more reflective, critical, and creative in their approach to helping clients. By recognizing the diversity of perspectives that exist within society, it promotes a more inclusive and empowering form of practice.