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Social theories II


Social theories II Interpretivism, reflection and social work as art In this lecture, we will: Review the meaning of interpretivism Examine the claims of Social ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Social theories II

Social theories II
  • Interpretivism, reflection and social work as art

In this lecture, we will
  • Review the meaning of interpretivism
  • Examine the claims of Social Work to be an Art
  • Discuss the notion of common sense
  • Explore ideas of Creativity and Holism
  • Relate these ideas to practice examples

What is Intepretivism?
  • We can only understand human beings, groups and
    society by exploring the meanings people
    attribute to any event or phenomenon
  • There is no single view of the world
  • Individuals construct their own view
  • of actions and events
  • This has become connected to discourse theory and
    supports the notion of social work as an art

An Example from Child Abuse Studies
  • Approaches to Screening for Child Abuse and
    Neglect (1988) Kevin Browne and Sarah Saqi
  • Follow up study of 14238 children born in North
    East Surrey in 1984
  • Identified a whole range of risk factors
  • Not planned / not wanted born early born with
    difficulties age of mother status of father
    parental history of abuse/ neglect/ public care
  • This produces a target group of risk ratings
  • Follow up after two years..but with limited
    correlation outcomes. Why does science not

So, what had happened?
  • The researchers interviewed the false positives
    (those who should have damaged or neglected
    their infants, but did not)
  • What had happened? For this group, in spite of
    the loss of income, the fatigue, the stress, the
    tedium, the pain, the shock, the limitations on
    independence, freedom, choice ..they associated
    being a parent with a major change for the
    better. The gains massively outweighed the
    losses. Parenting was perceived to have given
    their life meaning and a purpose. Yet many of
    these were people who should on paper have

How is Social Work an Art?
  • Emphasis on intuition, experience, being there,
    the crucible of communication
  • Casework is the vehicle for interaction the
    interpersonal encounter is rooted in the
    workers use of Self, or Personhood
  • This links to an idea of performance, on the part
    of the service user and the practitioner both
    are playing roles (the crux of symbolic
  • Knowledge helps not to prescribe a formulaic,
    mechanistic intervention but to create meaning.

What Do We Mean By Common Sense?
  • All professions are conspiracies against the
    laity GB Shaw
  • Traditionally, professions acquire their status
    by creating a discreet body of knowledge that is
    beyond the layperson, and removes
  • them from playing a part
  • Perhaps, England (1986) is
  • referring to the vitality of
  • keeping the common touch
  • Avoiding the pitfalls of
  • professionalisation does not mean being

Creativity and Holism
  • The tool of the worker is her own self and
  • Intuition is a core attribute, about oneself and
    the other(s)
  • Workers are not painting a picture.they are in
  • Thus, we are not observing testable hypotheses,
    under laboratory conditions, but
  • we are engaged in a living,
  • creative dynamic
  • We have to address things
  • holistically, not sequentially
  • We have to engage the creative
  • powers of our clients. But how?

Meaning and Understanding
  • Core concept Empathy (so links with person
    centred and humanistic counselling)
  • Understanding Others (England, 1986),
    verstehen (Weber(1892)
  • This is about shared understandings and a shared
    journey (see the works of Brandon, such as Zen in
    the Art of Helping (1976)
  • I sit on a mans back, choking him and making
    him carry me, and yet assure myself and others
    that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his
    lot by all possible means except by getting off
    his back Leo Tolstoy, cited in Brandon, 1976,
    Zen in the Art of Helping

Practice Ideologies
  • Hardikers model (1981)
  • Judicial ideology the administration of justice
    and social policing
  • Community development ideology work and change
    community / social systems
  • Welfare ideology a personal, interactional
    service, based upon professional relationships

Reflective Practice and Practice Wisdom
  • This concept recognises the learning that emerges
    from doing and the difference between reflection
    in action (in situ) and reflection on action
    (post hoc), supported and aided by consultation,
    supervision and mentoring
  • BUT. How does this fit with the coercive,
    policing, authoritative mandate for Social Work?
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