Sociology and Social Work

Sociology and Social Work

In fact, many traditions and trends in Sociology, particularly from the Sociology of Action ND Critical Sociology, have contributed to a critical questioning of the modern Social Work professional practice, namely about the processes and strategies of social control and the paradox underlying the dissociation between the theoretical-philosophical assumptions of Social Work and its actual practice, frequently with paternalistic and normative outlines.

On the other hand, some perspectives of Social Work, specially on what concerns the comprehension and evaluation of social policies and social needs, have also an important role in the (re)construction of sociological analytical perspectives. Following such assumptions, we will discuss, in the first part of the article, the analytic and methodological crossings between Social Work and Sociology, in order to consider, in the second part, the possibilities and pertinence of an osmotic and truly interdisciplinary model integrating both disciplines.

Keywords: Social Work; Sociology; Complementary Model 1 . Illumination The kaleidoscopic Frame The comprehension of inequalities, of its structural elements and of the dissemination and reproduction processes is inscribed as an essential element of the political and professional project of Social Work. This way social work refuses its reduction to a “social technology” and consolidates a unique analytical perspective evident in the mediation among the different levels of comprehension and action.

On the other hand, the reflection produced in the gist of Social Work, namely in the comprehension of the more vulnerable citizens, groups and communities needs, as well as in the comprehension of the real impact of social policies, cannot be overlooked as an important element in the (re)construction of the theoretical and axiological Sociology perspectives.

This feedback of informational fluxes is essential to OTOH disciplines and to really understand them we should withdraw from the unfinished, recurring and frequently sterile debate about the specificities of Sociology and Social Work towards a more constructive narrative about the possible ways of collaborating, strategically using their potential in the inquiry about more effective and rational social and political intervention mechanisms, in accordance with the increase and growing complexity of the contemporary social problems.

The metaphor of the kaleidoscope 1 illustrates, in this paper, our position concerning the various perspectives bout the relationship between Social Work and Sociology. We believe that the combination of their theoretical spaces and analysis of society, its problems and potentialities will produce, in this sense, a holistic vision with combined and multifaceted readings, resulting in innovative contributes to social thought and actions.

As in a kaleidoscope, the contributes present in each structure (mirror), stemming from Sociology or Social Work, will produce a new configuration of social action and intervention (lights/optics) capable of producing an effective action in social and political terms (forms). TO construct this argumentative frame we organized this article in two interrelated axes.

Initially, we will discuss the moments of analytical intersection between Social Work and Sociology so that, in a second part of methodological (re)construction, we can present a yet embryonic proposal of an interdisciplinary model that may contribute to the human and social development, enriching, consequently, each of the disciplines. . Axes of analytical intersection and complementarities: Critical and evolution approaches Sociology, restless with the collective phenomena’s that provoke dysfunction ND social discomfort, tried, since its origins, to diagnose and to categorize causes and effects of social and political contradictions (Molten;t, 2011).

On the other hand, perspectives of Social Work, namely on what concerns the comprehension of the socially vulnerable subjects social needs and the actual impact of social policies, had also, across the social sciences history, an important role in the (re)construction of sociological analytical perspectives. We intend, in this part to discuss some of this crossed analytical perspectives 2. 1 . The search of methodological and theoretical connections between

Sociology and Social Work for evaluating the society functioning: The influence of preceding movements In 1 827 El Play (cit. In Brothel, 1 991) stated, “I saw the birth of social sufferings that have acquired today such a dangerous character; and as my more eminent co-disciples, began to think of a way to remediation theme”. In fact many important names from Sociology, namely the ones recognized as the discipline founders, shared the same apprehensions about the functioning of the society they lived in.

As an example, Druthers (1 920), who highlights, among others, the concept of “anomy”‘, meaning the loss of ties ND social references in relation with the atomization of society, Weber (1991), with the concept of social action and the consequences of collective action on the individuals and social relations, Thomas (in Colon, 1995) and the Chicago School, worried with the juvenile delinquency and the co- habitation of minorities, resulting from the concentration of population in the Cities, and many other sociologists ACHE QUEUE NESSES AUTHORS CLASSICAL DEVELOPS PRESERVER O NONE DADS BORAS ORIGINALS MASS IMPORTANCE OH COLLAR AS DATA’S DE ENACTMENTS /MORTEM; OH O S?CULL ME QUEUE VERVIERS. Encored) In fact, both Sociology and Social Work are descendent of Modernity and were founded at the core of the Scientific Revolution with the apogee given to science and rationality. The scientific philanthropy movement was specially important to prepare the emergency and institutionalizing of social work practices in the United States of America and in Europe. In the end of the nineteen century were created the Charity Organization Societies (COOS) in the united States, in an attempt to understand the causes of social problems and to gather, systematize and homogenate the ark of hundreds of charity and social services organizations, as well as the settlement movement, particularly important to underline the importance of the local context to comprehend and to intervene in social problems (Howe, 2009).

The recognition that social intervention required a more consistent theoretical and methodological model to face, with a professionalisms and more rigorous feature, the complexity of social problems, justified the creation of social work schools (in 1 899 the Training School in Applied Philanthropy, in New York, and latter the Social Training School, in Amsterdam). In this context, Mary Richmond provided Social Work with its first technical and ideological content, theorizing and systematizing, in her seminal work (“Social Diagnoses”, 191 7), the “Casework Method” that involved the research about the causes of problems that affected families and individuals In this sense, her work allowed the replacement of the empiricism that characterized the support practices thus far.

Its at this moment that we find one of the first intersections between Sociology and Social Work with the contributions of some Sociology founders like El Play, Comet, and Spencer Molten;t, 2011), requesting instruments to assess the social functioning (the Social Inquiry of Frederic El Play and the Scientific Method explored by Augusta Comet). Authors from both disciplines (Sociology and Social Work) sought a theoretical and methodological organization as a way of analyzing the social (ids)functioning. It is also at this time that the specific training, in Sociology and in Social Work, gains its recognized place. The first one was inscribed specially in public universities, acquiring an academically feature, the second one in the generalized opening of Social Work Schools, specially oriented to applied theory and technical training .

This time/space intersection of social goals, social environment analytical frameworks and common concerns, meet and immediately draw apart, ramifying in two paths that, though not completely indistinct Isabel, turn out to be singular, focusing however on some connections or dissociation between social theory and social practices. The first connection is associated with the social theory construction and the consequent legitimacy of a social and political mandate. AQUA TITANS METHOD MASS DEPOTS O CONTENTњDO N?o VERSA SOBER O M?DODO Curiously many of the first names of Sociology were designated as “operational” (Molten;t, 2011 : 1 1) in the way that the construction of a social theory resulted from the concern about what they considered “social pathologies”.

The same “social pathologies” that were the main concern of social work practice and that justified an ideological perspective about how and why intervene in societies apparently functional. Like this, the perspectives of social control based in some sociological and psychological assumptions framed not only the social and political mandate f social work, but also the qualification axes promoted by schools and required by public and private organizations. In another perspective, associating social theory construction and a social and political mandate, we can identify the importance of theoretical perspectives connecting structure and action, I. E. “the debate about up to which point the individuals are determined by the structure and by the dynamics of social life or if the individual has self-determination abilities… ” (Omar, 2008:68). If Sociology has the aim to describe, as faithfully as possible, the society and it’s functioning s if it were an autonomous organism, according to the scientific thought of the time, the Social Work has equally the goal to understand society but with a particular goal: to change it. The scientific knowledge is understood as a way of finding better and more adequate ways of promoting human development and to fight vulnerability and social exclusion.

It is a committed knowledge that is difficult to generalist because it is conceptualized not only at a micro level, but also to the specific contexts that constitute society as a whole. Berger (1 995: 16) presents an illustrative argument of this connections hen he defines the image of the sociologist as a kind of theoretician of the social work: “the social work, whatever it’s rational and theoretical justification, is a positive practice in society. Sociology is not a practice, but intent to understand Articulated with this perspective, with Jane Adams (1860-1935) and the School Of Chicago we identify another intersection point. The “settlement” movement begins in London and is quickly scaled-up to other countries, namely the United States.

About the genesis of this movement two essential arguments are drawn: the first one mentions that this was a “natural” development of he COOS and the epistemological passage from the individual conception towards the collective understanding of social problems. In fact, the COOS had an approach deeply centered in the individuals and families, overlooking the structural aspects of their environment. The second refers to the consolidation of the “Full House” in Chicago with a complementary relation with the approaches from the School of Chicago and with the deep friendship between Mead and Adams. This way, the “settlements” tried to understand the territorial dynamics that existed in the social subgroups and in their “habitat”. Likewise, they tried to intervene at different levels (pedagogical, sanitary, recreational, and so on) with a wider perspective on social problems.

On the other hand, they tried to promote the autonomy of the vulnerable groups through the reinforcement of their skills and inclusive strategies that allowed the improvement of the life conditions. The Social Work gains this way new methodological perspectives: the Group Work and the Community Work, in close epistemological relation with the contributes of Sociology, not only about the application of the scientific method to the comprehension of social facts”, but also about the comprehension of the structural functioning of society and of minorities in particular. As Howe puts it (2009:11) “Social Work looked to Sociology to explain how the problems of the poor were really problems of social structure. Sociological analyses encouraged social reform and taking social action”.

This is, in our view, a second moment of analytical intersection, in the sense that, at the same time the two disciplines are gaining from the expanding of the theoretical and methodological corpus of one and another, and they are equally ramifying and acquiring more specificity. From here results, to Sociology, the construction and consolidation of theoretical frameworks that explain the social functioning and dysfunction, while to Social Work becomes clear its political function and its role in social reform and social denunciation. The contribution of critical sociology is indeed crucial to the critical definition of social work nature, especially after the ass of the twentieth century.

The criticism of social control and preservation of status quo, which were intensified, at this time, within the social sciences, forced the social work to redefine its objectives, to confront its radixes and to assume an epistemological orientation, a project of social and political transformation of societies grappling with its own contradictions and failures. The suspicions of the dilution of individual freedom, the normalizing strategies and the perverse relationship between social workers and the institutionalized power put into question the purposes that (theoretically) Social Work asserted and wanted to achieve. Social Work considered as a “family police”, as dubbed by Jacques Donnelly (1977), finds itself in a context Of self and hetero criticism about its deep sense, the usability of becoming a significant factor for the reconstruction of social ties and a central element in pursuing goals of social justice.

Like this, “Sociology opened up a new outlook on the world challenging taken-for-granted assumptions and provided interpretations of social phenomena that help us situate our viewpoints and experiences” (Cunningham & Cunningham, 2008: 3). The contribution from currents of critical sociology and women’s movement were particularly important in the consolidation of a more developmental and political social work.. Actually, with the apogee of the implement approaches, its possible to find a renewed and clear sense for the role of social work in society and in the current scientific thinking, which is obviously influenced by other sciences that complement it (such as Sociology, Psychology, Economy, Law, among others).

However if we consider only the confluence of different looks its not enough for a holistic understanding of reality that surrounds us, nor for the consolidation of effective methodologies to intervene and solve the current social problems (Hull & Gibson, 201 1 Under this assumption we will try to identify the axes for an integrated analytical model that can associate coherently sociology and social work perspectives. 3. Dimensions and Conceptual Reflection in Action: Complexity, Risk and Social Vulnerability The concept of “complexity” is CEQ Lully a concept of analytical intersection between Sociology and Social Work, namely according to the writings of Giddiness (1991), Bobolinks (1982) and Broodier (in cabin, 201 1). TO Giddiness (1991) the concept of reflexivity is associated with constant revision of social practices as an answer to the classic dilemma in the social sciences: the dichotomy between objectivity and subjectivity.

To this author, society has little logics and tendencies that interfere in its functioning and its only possible to consider them in an inebriate manner (idem: 1 991 According to Blatantly (1 982), we recognize the subjects of the social world as skilled with critical, monopolizing competences, able to denunciate injustices. There is a monotheistic care to classify the social judgment and the assumption of the reflexive ability of the subject looking, essentially, to delineate the contexts that improve these abilities. Broodier (in Cabin, 2011) claims the existence, in any society, of dominants and dominated and that this hierarchical relation exults not only from the psychosocial characteristics Of the subjects but, essentially, from the social and cultural organization, reminding us the importance of social problems conceptualization, as well as the holistic, and to a certain point, systemic character of the social field.

Complexity is a permanent perspective in the professional practice of Social Work that we can find in its reflexive action and that puts into play the different elements and social actors in wider contexts. The complex thought in social intervention is an inclusive thought, allowing us to overcome the contingent social reactionaries through a more significant focus on the future and on the skills. This argument of social complexity, defended by Adams et al. (2009), is defined as a cumulative process of reflection and action that can identify and question the different factors that contribute to the increase of vulnerability of individuals and social groups.

This process is characterized, according to the authors, by an intensity frame (vertical concept that explains the density with which the social problems affect the life of the citizens), by an extension frame (horizontal concept that reveals the scale, the extension and the life monuments of the affected citizens) and, also, by a context frame, referring to the structural relations and to the different quadrants that integrate the citizens lives. Like this the complexity vision allow the apprehension of Social Work by the specific effects that it possesses in the citizens life’s associated with an appeal to a critical position and to a social intervention work with repercussions in terms of social change.

The understanding of social complexity, uncertainty and risk that characterize contemporary society requires in fact a constant dialogue between theory, knowledge, practices and aloes, surpassing the reproduction of routine procedures, with the direct use of registration operational models, as well as rigid instruments which have low permeability for the contexts diversity. Ignoring the complexity of situations can lead to insensitive and inappropriate responses to citizen’s needs. Standardized procedures may became a “substitute for human contact and exploration denying the necessity for professional judgment in assessing high risk situations” (Hughes & Pungently, 1 997, p. 140, cit. By Ruche, 2004, p. 1 13).

The reflexive in context and to be able to integrate micro intents into macro contexts, and vice versa, is an essential axe of professional judgment and recognition. In fact, “conceptualization”, understood in Social Work perspective as the construction of the intervention context, integrates multiform dimensions that are articulated on different levels (micro, mess and macro), as presented below (Figure 1 where are consubstantiation the professional basis: the social demand, the support networks, the fields of intervention, the organization, the social policies and the territory. Figure 1. -? Analytic matrix of Social Work intervention context Intervention Levels Micro Level Mess Level Macro Level Social Demand Nature and characteristic of the demand.

Identification of the actors involved on the initial procedures of the demand/ resource to the social organizations or directly to public social services Intervention Field Institutional areas and themes of social policy associated with the professional interventions. (Health, education, justice, work, social security, municipality, integrated projects, disability,… ). Social Policy Complex conceptual and theoretical network of social demand configuration (social issues). Social Policy and Measures Applicable Social Policy Framework Us port Network Matrix of social relations with the individual and the family, neighborhood, community Of origin, friends, colleagues, . Formal network of support.

Organizational Context Nature and Structure Mode of functioning Institutional and human resources Development strategy of the organization Professional functions assigned and ARQ aired skills Institutional processes that define professional routines. Opportunities and constraints rotary Economic conditions, political, social, cultural geographical area of policies and social services implementation. Level of community organization, outwork of social resources.This analytical matrix highlights on the one hand the complexity of the Social Work subject, and secondly, the multidimensionality and flexibility of the social practices.

The dynamic nature of the connection, that crosses the existing social norms, integrates organizations, explicit demands, networks of formal and informal support, guidance and social policy measures and territorial dimensions (political, economic, social and cultural) with the latent social, which includes expectations, meanings, the thought plasticity of the actors involved, the representations, the ideal and desirable, transforms the apparent uniformity of pragmatic rituals into conceptual and operational heterogeneity. For this reason, in the same context practices combine repeatable and unrepeatable procedures, standard procedures and conceptual constructions; practices where the “old” (that is the tradition, welfare, conformism) and the “new” combine and transcend routines with new technologies, new audiences, new policies, conceiving cultural diversity ND citizen participation.

It is by this dynamic that opportunities, choice and social innovation emerge as essential factors to the construction of a more participatory professional project centered on the primacy Of justice and social equity. For this matter the contributes of Sociology in what concerns for instance the current apprehensions about social complexity, risk and vulnerability are essential to the comprehension of the social structures and actors, and are ‘translated” into the current context of the Social Work theories and practice. As an example we can underline the concept of flexibility as it is apprehended by Jane Book (2004:18) “reflexivity involves the ability to recognize that all the aspects of ourselves and our contexts influence the way that we research (or create knowledge)”.

Her argument about the reflexivity in Social Work frames not only the systematic and continuous revision of the action but also the self-conscience and the self- knowledge of the professional preventing possible bias in the relation with the other. For Wilson, Ruche, Limberly & Cooper (2008, 1 3), reflective practice “is, in essence, about thinking involves holistic thinking, which embraces acts and feelings, artistic and scientific understanding and subjective and objective perspectives”. It implies that the professional constantly mobile the components that should be present in its action: values, theoretical knowledge and those that come from practice.

In the course of the action they manifest themselves simultaneously and it is the required recognition of its interdependence that enables professionals to deal with complexity and uncertainty that characterize the current social phenomena. However, the harmonious integration of these dimensions in practice requires the ability to imbibe.

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