Guide to Submitting Your Writing
The Rank-and-Filer welcomes new submissions. Here are some tips for what sort of what we are most likely to look for in essays and other submissions:
- Nuts and bolts of how austerity impacts our work. Recently there has been a special request for more writing about how austerity, budget cuts, bad policy and the economic recession impact the day-to-day work of social workers and social service workers on the ground. Write about your own job!
- Left politics. Generally, we are looking for work significantly more critical, more to the left, and more radical than what we can write for our nonprofit jobs. Work should try to both try to locate a particular issue in the broader structures of capitalism, state violence and institutionalized oppression, and connect solutions to broader movement struggles of oppressed people. While many social service workers know that wealth has something to do with poverty, and that movements by and for poor people would probably help, we rarely talk about either seriously. This is a chance to take an issue you care about, you work on, or you know something about, and put it in that bigger context and begin to think about real solutions.
- Rooted in your experience. Many folks who read The Rank-and-Filer work in the front-lines of direct service work and movement politics. Most have dealt with some sort of oppression in our own lives. While we also welcome work that is more detached, we often find the strongest and most effective writing to come from self-reflectively and self-critically examining our own lives, our own work and organizing practice, and our own experiences.
- Accessible and relevant. We welcome and encourage academics, including students, to submit work on topics that might be relevant for social service workers, like social movements, political economy, inequality, or incarceration. This work should be rewritten, however, to be as accessible as possible. Explain your terms, show clear and easy-to-follow thinking, and include some reflection on why the topic might be relevant to social service workers today.
- Pseudonyms are fine. Many folks who are submitting on this site are writing under made-up names. This is totally okay. In some cases we are lucky enough to work or study in places where we can be totally out about our politics and thinking. Just as often, however, radicals and socialists face discrimination in our jobs and schools. If it will help you to be more bold, more critical, more reflective and more radical, feel free to submit anonymously with a made-up name.
- We are flexible about length. Pieces should be at least 500 words, and probably no more than 4,000 words. If you want it to be much longer, we could post separate sections from one week to the next. That’s a big range for you to work with. Most of our pieces run from 1,500 to 2,500 words—that’s about six to ten pages double spaced—but longer or shorter work is also encouraged.
- We encourage new writers. If you are a social service worker who doesn’t write for your job, this is a great chance to share your thinking. If you are an academic who has never tried to write for a non-academic audience, we encourage you to give it a try. We aren’t harsh editors, and we welcome everyone who generally shares our values to give it a shot.
Topics? Because we encourage work that is personal, we are also flexible about topic. Here are some general themes we are interested in:
- Descriptions of current or former organizing, particularly social justice movements lead by those who are most affected by a particular form of oppression. You should include some analysis about what worked, what didn’t, and why it matters.
- Critically reflecting on the institutions we work in, especially nonprofit agencies.
- How a social service worker relates their personal experiences of oppression to their jobs and professional work.
- Accounts of social service workers building connections with social movements, organizing and protest.
- Analysis that understands an issue that confronts social service workers—like poverty, or jails and prisons, or homelessness—to the broader histories of capitalism, wealth and the role of government.
Those are just a few ideas. If you have ideas of your own, please let us know. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your submissions, questions and ideas!