Pandemic Social Work: Practice, education and activism in the time of COVID


Intersectionalities invites multidisciplinary contributions to a special issue reflecting on, and analyzing the effects of, the COVID global pandemic on social work practice, education, activism, community organizing and social and economic policy. As the numbers of confirmed cases surpasses 43 million people, with over a million deaths worldwide, the urgency of responding to the COVID global pandemic is palpable.  As social work practitioners, educators and scholars, we are compelled to come to terms with the impact of this historical moment, the indelible effects it is having, not only in our personal and professional lives, but also in the social, economic and political systems within which we live, play and work. Massive unemployment, economic crisis, the re-structuring of work and school, and the reconfiguring of social, familiar and intimate relationships suggest that COVID is not simply a health crisis, but that it has far-reaching potentialities of transformation of social relations and systems, that until recently seemed to be immutable. Furthermore, the pandemic has coincided with an upsurge of white supremacy and neoconservatism, evidenced in acts of racial violence and white hate leading to the state-sanctioned death of Black and Indigenous peoples. The pandemic has simultaneously seen increased levels of anticolonial and anti-racist activisms, which are being articulated in new and creative ways. Social work is at a critical moment in which we must consider the impacts of the COVID pandemic on political activism, anti-racism work, and the very terrain in which pandemic social work takes place. 


We welcome submissions, emerging not only from social work research and scholarship, but also from related disciplines that contribute to Canadian and global social work knowledge. We invite contributions from scholars, educators and practitioners in social work and related fields. Finally, we invite contributions from graduate and undergraduate students to be included in a “Student-Voices” section of the issue (see instructions for student submission below).  

Possible themes might include:  

  • Impacts of COVID on interlocking relations of power: How is the COVID pandemic impacting on groups of people historically subalternized, marginalized, colonized and/or oppressed by relations of racism, sexism, classism, ableism, colonization, heteronormativity, etc.? How has the COVID pandemic aggravated or alleviated existing social inequalities? What is the relationship between the effects of the pandemic and globalization and transnational power relations?
  • COVID and social and economic policies: How have state institutions worldwide responded to the COVID pandemic? What are social policy responses that have emerged as a result of the pandemic? What are the social and economic impact of COVID? How has the welfare state been impacted by the pandemic? Is the pandemic leading to a fundamental transformation of the welfare state, or are changes simply partial or superficial? How has the pandemic impacted on neoliberal state agendas and their emphasis on austerity?
  • The biopolitical effects of the pandemic: How is the COVID pandemic reorganizing and reshaping body politics? How is the pandemic redefining, calculating and reorganizing bodies and populations? How is the pandemic and state/community responses (re)defining valuable and expendable lives?
  • COVID and the politics of care: How is social work practice being reshaped due to COVID (work from home, virtual social work, case management, counselling, etc.)? How has COVID affected critical, anti-oppressive, decolonial and emancipatory practice approaches? How is the pandemic impacting on work with older adults, children, women, homeless populations, immigrants and refugees, remote communities, etc.? What has the pandemic taught us about the limits and possibilities of the future of social work practice?
  • The effects of COVID on teaching and learning (distance, virtual, and un-synchronous education): How is the pandemic impacting in the teaching and learning of critical social work, Indigenous pedagogies, anti-racism, and other forms of social justice pedagogies? Has the pandemic led to the emergence, or required the articulation, of new pedagogies? What is the impact of COVID on field education? How has COVID made us rethink practicum and its role in the formation of students? 
  • The impact of COVID on research and academic work: How is the pandemic impacting and transforming research work, scholarly production, and working relations and condition in universities and colleges? How has the pandemic impacted and reshaped research activities? How has the pandemic impacted on the capacity to conduct ethical research?
  • COVID, work and labour: How is the pandemic impacting and reshaping work-home separations? How has it redefined work and its value through, for instance, the redefinition of essential labour for social work practitioners and educators? 
  • COVID, activism and social organizing: How is the COVID pandemic impacting, reorganizing and reshaping activism, protest, resistance movements, etc.? What are the impacts of new/old activist configurations on social practice, education and analysis? 

Submission process and deadlines: 

  1. Submit a 200-word abstract by November 20, 2020: Abstracts need to be submitted by email to the Special Issue Editors ( and In addition to the abstract, please indicate the stage in which the research or paper is at the time of submission, and whether the research/theorizing on which the paper is based has been completed or is in progress. Indicate if the paper is being submitted to the “Student Voices” section of the special issue. 
  2. Once abstracts have been reviewed, the Special Issue Editors will invite authors to submit complete manuscripts. 
  3. Deadline for the submission of complete manuscripts is February 28, 2021. Manuscripts submitted by scholars and practitioners should be between 4000 and 7000 words. Manuscripts submitted by students should be between 2000 and 4000 words.
  4. An abstract (maximum 200 words) and keywords (maximum 5) must be included at the beginning of all manuscripts. 
  5. All manuscripts must follow the Journal’s guidelines for submissions (
  6. After being reviewed by the Special Issue Editors, manuscripts are subjected to anonymous peer-review. 
All completed manuscripts should be submitted online at