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This chapter has argued that social work in the UK has been 'colonized' by a bureaucratic rationality that privileges procedures, systems, pro-formas and the 'electronic turn'. This inordinate response has undercut the 'lifeworld' of human subjects: their essential meanings, routines, rituals and use of everyday communication to problem solve. Hence, the 'system' and 'lifeworld' in social work need to be brought into a meaningful counterpoise but this can only be done by strengthening interventions that draw on the 'lifeworld'. In this chapter, I have argued that phenomenology provides an important lens for exploring the nature of the 'lifeworld'and how we might intervene meaningfully within it. Phenomenology recasts human life as something dynamic in nature, a verb-like happening (as opposed to a static noun-like entity), an unfolding experience. In this rubric the role and task of phenomenological social work is to facilitate new horizons of meaning so that, in Sartrean terms, people burst forth into their 'lifeworlds'. However, this is predicated on 'getting back to the things, themselves'.


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