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A critical analysis of the social work definition according to the relational paradigm
Fabio Folgheraiter and Maria Luisa Raineri International Social Work 2012 55: 473 originally published online 3 April 2012 DOI: 10.1177/0020872812440588 The online version of this article can be found at: http://isw.sagepub.com/content/55/4/473
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International Association of Schools of Social Work International Council of Social Welfare International Federation of Social Workers
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The intention is to identify the core of social work without undermining the ‘paradigmatic openness’ of it. Email: fabio.com A critical analysis of the social work definition according to the relational paradigm Fabio Folgheraiter Catholic University. Milano 20123.folgheraiter@unicatt. Sociology Department.it Downloaded from isw. co. Milan. we attempt to conduct a critical analysis of the joint IFSW and IASSW social work definition by re-reading it from the perspective of the relational paradigm. social change. relational approach. Catholic University. it might be possible to overcome some discrepancies and difficulties evident in the current definition.sagepub. rather than seeking to pull together different and sometimes discordant perspectives. social work definition Introduction The enduring problem of intuitively representing the essence of social work (Bartlett. 1958) has induced the International Federation of Social Workers Corresponding author: Fabio Folgheraiter. Keywords reciprocity of help. L.uk/journalsPermissions. Milan.nav DOI: 10. 2012 .1177/0020872812440588 isw.com at Central European University on November 25.sagepub. Italy Abstract In this article. self-determination. Our hypothesis is that if we adopt a precise position that focuses on the essentials. Italy. Italy Maria Luisa Raineri Catholic University.go Gemelli 1.440588 ISW Article i s w International Social Work 55(4) 473–487 © The Author(s) 2012 Reprints and permission: sagepub.
Nevertheless. neighbors and professional as teachers. and carefully thought out. 2007). Relational social work focuses on relationships as the basis for change. In this article. Although the definition was intended to be a ‘cornerstone’ of professional thought. Folgheraiter. health workers and social workers. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work. it might be possible to move in new directions.the network helps practitioner to better understand how he/she can help it. we conduct a critical analysis of the definition by re-reading it from a particular point of view. The central idea is that change emerges from a reciprocal aid. 2004.474 International Social Work 55(4) (IFSW) and the International Association of School of Social Work (IASSW) to work together to formulate a Definition Statement officially approved by both IFSW and IASSW at their respective General Assemblies in 2000 and by both organizations jointly in 2001. 2011). 2004: 418) The text is dense. Although intended to provide for broader understandings of persistent social problems. it is developed within a Western social context. (Hare. rather than seeking to pull together different and sometimes discordant perspectives. The relational paradigm overturns the normally taken-for-granted assumptions in mainstream social work: that is. and in turn . Our hypothesis is that if we adopt a precise position which focuses on the essentials.com at Central European University on November 25. although intrinsically ‘unsettled’ ones (Rossiter. It runs as follows: The social work profession promotes social change. as the current definition does. Folgheraiter (2007) defines relational social work as a practice paradigm in which practitioners identify and resolve problems by facilitating coping networks (conceived as a set of relationships between people interested in a common aim) to enhance their resilience and capacities for action at both individual and collective levels. a number of good social work practices implemented in non-Western context can be well understood in the light of the relational paradigm. even when the matter is to counter structural inequalities. this valuable aim has been achieved only partially. 2012 . so can only be applied elsewhere with caution. that if we exploit the prescriptions furnished by scientific knowledge. The practitioner helps the network to develop reflexivity and improve itself in enhancing welfare. friends. it is possible to eliminate Downloaded from isw. 2010. Participative and inclusive ways of working are engaged to mobilize and develop supportive and problem-solving networks that can include both family members. that of the relational paradigm (Donati. Utilising theories of human behaviour and social systems. social work intervenes at the points where people interact with their environments. problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance wellbeing.sagepub.
services organization) which seek to help people by enabling them. if we consider currently unknown future possibilities) by differentiation from the individual practitioner who originally constituted the historical – so-called ‘generic’ – social worker (Smith and Whyte. to cope with life-problems as they themselves perceive them.’ The definition begins with the phrase ‘The social work profession’. it subtly emphasizes that social work should not be understood as a single profession (Hare. 2. It is sociality and humanity. that legitimate whatever helping practices are adopted.1. it should be reconceptualized and in some way dignified. they all have a common basis. a kind of ‘high priests’ of the state’s distributive and normative functions. be either concealed or denied: rather. . in an associated and reflexive manner. breaking it down into individual statements. namely ‘the social model of helping’. Analytical discussion of the joint definition Following the procedure used by Hare (2004) and later adopted by Hutchings and Taylor (2007). The term ‘social professions’ includes all those professions or activities (such as care management. Here we make just one macroscopic point with regard to the definition: it makes no reference – not even a vague one – to the redistributive function of the classic social worker (Webb. 2001). Lorenz. therapy. Social work is a ‘large umbrella’ (Van Ewijk. a plurality of professions or para-professions. 2. 2008). we analyse the official definition. which provocatively suggests that it is the human energy that emanates from motivated people that ‘resolves’ the problem of the apparently growing inefficacy of welfare systems. 2010). social workers have a conventional image as being government functionaries. . 2012 . 2004. The redistributive function should not. Social workers are not ‘social’ purely because they make welfare apparatuses work from within by lubricating their mechanisms where they Downloaded from isw. Whatever may have been the component parts of the original professional role from which distinct practices arose.sagepub. In nearly all European countries. ‘The social work profession . This ‘salvationist’ claim is gainsaid by relational theory. but it does not immediately make clear that social work should be conceptualized as a multi-professional field. not with the more obvious ‘the profession of social work’. all derived (or derivable.com at Central European University on November 25. modulated in the correct ethical and scientific terms. education. in our opinion.Folgheraiter and Raineri 475 people’s problems. In so doing. 2009) which encompasses all the realities that can be related to its complex identity.
Social work is Downloaded from isw. they cannot be held directly and exclusively responsible for every deliberate social change. but what kind of change is pursued by social workers? Obviously. but at other times it may be slow and reluctant. . Change is always desirable wherever there is suffering. 1997. and.2. . 1997).’ This statement captures an essential aspect of social work practices. 2012 . .com at Central European University on November 25. a social worker acts in such a way that the interested parties can – so long as they are recipients of services – always evaluate those services and discuss them on an equal footing with the professionals who deliver them (Barnes. ‘Promotes social change . 2001). the analysed expression could be reformulated as follows: The professional arena of social work is the set of the various ‘social professions’ carried out within or without national welfare systems . What are the changes exclusively claimed by social work? They are changes subject to two interconnected conditions: they must relate to a) the lives of real flesh-and-blood people (Ferguson. The change that interests us here springs from a perception of concrete existential malaise.476 International Social Work 55(4) impact unilaterally with beneficiaries or end-users. Whatever the case may be. This perception may relate to medium-range aspects of life (the community) or to more detailed micro-aspects of the life of a family or an individual. The perception that ‘this is not right’ may on occasion be a deep and sudden insight.sagepub. Even when a social worker acts as a mere cog in one of those mechanisms. This term usually indicates a transformation in overall socio-political conditions or politico-administrative interventions with a certain impact on welfare. and even have the counterpoint of denial and suffering due to the act of ‘realization’. 2004). Whatever his or her institutional status may be. 2006). in particular. she or he is still a social worker because she or he is acting as a fluidifier of human reflexivity (Seikkula and Arnkil. For the above reasons. b) lives lived in conditions of such intense hardship that the concerned persons consider them unacceptable and therefore needing to be changed. from awareness that a certain way of living generates ‘hardship and suffering’ (BASW. . the problem giving rise to the change is not ‘social’). 2. But there must be a certain level of concern which extends across a relational network of a certain size (if it does not. principle 7). namely that they seek to improve society (Dominelli. social work is always involved in the escape from life situations which have been judged (by the various people involved) unacceptable or intolerable.
is usually immediate (for example: in the case of an alcoholic who abuses his children and asks for help. a change which. and at the same time to seek alliances and human support – that is. It is in these circumstances. it is hoped. will be ‘for the better’ and therefore lead to recovery (if not to a ‘solution’). attenuates in the day-to-day practice of social workers. Also. or what you say it is?) typical of applied ethics. 2012 . it is obvious that it would be good if he or she quit drinking and abusing). and it aims to achieve changes brought about from below by responsible. people may direct their actions against these structural situations. more human principles. and b) a change in the institutions and normative/administrative systems which may affect people’s lives in a certain place or time. the desired change which inspires social work moves in two directions: a) a direct change in community. it is still foreseen in our minds. any change whatever that is of interest to social work. and which is always likely to arise in any situation where subjectivity is prominent. people find themselves in the ‘bad’ to the point that they have grown tired of it. ‘prevention’ is driven by a fear of the ‘bad’.sagepub. the change is political. because it always presupposes an associated (social) action.Folgheraiter and Raineri 477 actional. a joint will to attain a desired improvement. Social workers generally intervene in severe hardship situations where establishing what is right. Relational theory assumes that every human being has an innate drive – although sometimes covert or blocked – towards the ‘good’ (a life more ‘human’). there will not be the self-motivation to change.com at Central European University on November 25. by contrast. it is he himself who suggests that it would be good if he gave up drinking and stopped being abusive. The well-known relativistic dilemma (the question of establishing what exactly constitutes the ‘good’: is it what I say it is. even if the drinker does not acknowledge the problem and it is his or her partner who asks for help. therefore. It is not. but rather. and not attributable (except perhaps indirectly) to a primary social Downloaded from isw. social work is circumstantial and particularistic. people perceive themselves at ease. where people have an acute awareness of the hardship in which they find themselves or into which they may fall. a recovery which changes ‘for the better’ human living conditions that are perceived as precarious and poor. that the most powerful internal energies are unleashed to achieve change. and as such ‘exists now’. If. that is. and therefore relational. Even if the bad does not exist at present. or at least what is openly wrong. to construct social bonds of trust. family or individual lifestyles. In order to reorganize their lives on more salubrious. This is due to the remedial intrinsic nature of social work. since social work is a welfare profession. Also in this latter case. because of various ordeals or misfortunes. motivated individuals. When institutional changes or reforms are driven from above. and that this drive is more powerful when. As we said.
All the various kinds of social distress therefore arise from pathological relationships (dysfunctional social bonds). as Downloaded from isw. Nonetheless. and then acts so that this residual attribute can grow as the result of a shared reflexive agency aimed at accomplishing the desired change. in fact. As the phrase continues.com at Central European University on November 25. for example). ‘[Promotes] problem-solving in human relationships’ With its emphasis on problem-solving. but it is one method whereby social workers look for the ‘positive’ elements that are present. We can describe as ‘relational’ an expert who knows that social relations are the leverage points for change. seeking the residual humanity in those dysfunctional relationships. namely that interpersonal relations are in the interests of social work because they are the causes of social hardship. 2004). another potential misunderstanding arises. because they are extraneous to its underlying values (IFSW and IASSW. according to the social model. In such situations. they do not pertain to social work. The focus of social work consists in motivated. social workers will take note of the fact but they will move in the opposite direction. She or he checks whether some strengths still remain. even if relationships are virtually pathological or pathogenic. .478 International Social Work 55(4) action. a social worker steers straight ahead and will not be deflected. 7. as instead is the propensity of clinical approaches like psychodynamic therapies. She or he always seeks out the existing potential. it is not essential to refer to the cause in order to operate ‘socially’. and a science for beneficial change ‘in the future’. When changes are made through violence or fiat (even with a view to a perfect good or justice). rather than lingering on their understanding and explanation.sagepub. and not the source of all problems (a typical view of those who work from the conventional viewpoint of family therapy. The analysed expression could therefore be reformulated as follows: [Social work] promotes and accompanies the desired social changes which emerge as a reaction from shared perceptions of severe hardship. social work is by definition concerned with social relationships as the primary source from which may spring the reflexive and emotional forces required to attain the desired change. and she or he solicits and supports this action. 2012 . this statement grasps an important traditional feature of social work: its pragmatic tendency to address problems directly and seek to ‘solve’ them. . in social life . a professional method).3. But this succinct formulation may induce misunderstandings and suggest that problems are ‘solved by’ social workers (‘problem-solving’ is. actual or potential. This search may on occasion produce scant results. In addition. As a ‘social’ science.
2003). But some specifications are necessary. and especially so is the notion that the social worker is the source of the greater power which ‘liberates’ users and oppressed people. It is a strategy of action which cuts across all social work practices. self-hurting. It may be that this term actually has an ‘anti-oppression’ connotation in the global definition.4. The analysed expression could therefore be reformulated as follows: [Social work] promotes problem-solving. no help from a welfare professional would ever be possible (Barnes and Bowl.Folgheraiter and Raineri 479 opposed to miserable. 2012 . As regards social work. is crucial in many respects.com at Central European University on November 25. not because of a professional device. relationships (Ramsay. Without empowerment. 7. It is liable to misunderstanding. and have the power to join together so that they can unleash the strengths which can ‘liberate’ them from themselves Downloaded from isw. Unlike a systemic therapist. by exploiting the energy present in human relations . until proved wrong. As Parsloe wrote: ‘It [empowerment] is a most unfortunate word for social work to have adopted because it can well be argued that the very idea that one person. runs counter to the whole idea of greater equality of power on which the concept supposedly depends’ (Parsloe. . The idea that people are liberated and empowered by actions and words. that if people’s desire to solve their problems by helping each other is cultivated and supported. ‘[Promotes] the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being’ This statement. a social worker. a client. true empowerment should be defined as follows: people who are empowered are those who are not oppressed or impeded by oppressive professional and institutional powers concerned with their wellbeing. it will always prevail over their unconscious. too. We agree with Parsloe (1996) when she declares that ‘empowerment’ is one of the most slippery words in the welfare literature. 1996: 6).sagepub. a core concept in social work. and who are therefore free because of their human essence. a relational social worker will always believe. as we have seen. is. It is important nonetheless to make it clear that empowerment is a broader concept. It is valid for macro-practices but also for microones in face-to-face relationships (in counselling. In the international literature. 2001). . whatever the origin of the problems. can empower another. so that the quality of their lives improves. mechanical. the term ‘empowerment’ is often interpreted in terms of collective action centred on the liberation of oppressed social groups in developing and other countries. for example).
there is not one party who seeks to provide well-being to another. because if it is absent – that is. and they perform it. Here we follow Levinas and also refer to subtle powers such as the exercise of knowledge and professional representation (Dominelli. Downloaded from isw. the obligatory way to ‘create’ power is to take a step back and relinquish some of their own power. becomes to all intents and purposes an indispensable support to the social worker’s own humanity. Both experts and interested parties work together on a synergic search for a common good. Both human agents in a true helping relationship aid each other (Pettersen and Hem.com at Central European University on November 25. Social workers promote empowerment when. Professionals have a role. Because their role is facilitating ‘success’ of this kind. experts may achieve greater power for themselves from the betterment of persons who are motivated to change. and to improve their personalities by virtue of the liberating experience of trusting each other. operating to all intents and purposes as co-workers. The reciprocity of help – letting the person being helped be an equal and help us – is not an empty slogan. even to the extreme extent that other people’s freedom. Rossiter. should be authentically and radically reciprocal.sagepub. The analysed expression could therefore be reformulated as follows: In accordance with the spirit of empowerment. therefore. It is a radical turning point.1 In genuine relational social work. 2004). or something which ‘is better if it exists’. and even to help the ‘helping professionals’ in [the] exercise of their statutory tasks. Generally speaking. 2000. 2011) in a twofold sense: to undertake their shared task.480 International Social Work 55(4) and enable them to overcome their own shortcomings and environmental constraints. when constructively used. and therefore the problems which assail them. thereby respecting the typically human need for conscious self-determination. Parton and O’Byrne. so that they feel that they are able to contribute towards the building of common well-being. but it is supervisory and facilitatory rather than manipulative and technical. [social work] promotes the liberation of people by showing trust in their real powers of initiative. to his/her capability to do his/ her work most effectively. 2012 . Thereafter. they express trust in such a way that they leave weak individuals (how weak they need to be we shall see later) free to find their own escape routes. notwithstanding their role. the relational approach maintains that every interaction between a professional and a social network including individuals within it. a social worker recognizes and boosts the freedom of action of those being helped. social workers receive in exchange the emotional benefit implicit in doing a job well and delivering what has been promised. on the ‘null’ hypothesis that those being helped do not reciprocate help to their helpers – the ‘help’ withers and dies (Beresford and Croft. For social work professionals. everybody pursues the well-being of everyone else together. By definition. 2002. and. 2011).
5. 2012 . with special reference to phenomenological and humanistic oriented ones . handled as if they were tools) only for directly clinical purposes: or in tests to diagnose individual dysfunctions and understand their origins. can be really utilized for this purpose. professional social workers do not apply reflexivity to inert matter. According to the relational paradigm. .sagepub. 1972) and micro sociology (Archer. are appropriate strategies for social work. . As we know. precisely when they are not utilized as such.Folgheraiter and Raineri 481 7. Ideally. 1999). These celebrated theories lend themselves to being ‘utilized’ (literally. nor focusing on (behavioural or relational) dysfunctions. and especially behav iouristic and clinical. as techniques for planned change. If we must indicate the specific disciplinary referents for social work (having acknowledged that it is a multi-disciplinary area in which many social sciences interweave). in particular the more technical ones such as behavioural theories or system theories. exploiting the endowment of trust and cooperation termed ‘social capital’ (Putnam. but enact it as a support for the interlocutory reflexivity of a social network. ‘Utilizing theories of human behaviour and social systems’ This statement exhibits perhaps the unconscious prescriptive imbalance of the entire definition. The analysed expression could therefore be reformulated as follows: Based on all the social sciences. But neither looking at the past and causes. these general referents must be linked to ethical humanism (Levinas. Schön (1983) teaches us that theories imparted to human workers become useful only when they have been assimilated and constitute a base on which to construct personal reflexivity – that is. Since the ultimate purpose of social work is free and unpredictable change for the better. We should also ask whether psychological theories. 2003. These broad disciplines help social workers understand the pivotal idea of their work: that micro-communities (the ‘social’ networks that they engage with) can attain – within the given environmental constraints – wanted outcomes which they themselves have self-generated. 2002). and they work together to construct a shared outcome. operationally.com at Central European University on November 25. we can say anything except that they are ‘psychological’. Downloaded from isw. or. it requires a theory which gives practitioners space in which to act freely (Sen. First. 2010). reflexivity becomes a transformative mental power (that of the social worker) that joins with an equally powerful force (that contained in the social relationships encompassed by a social network). we should ask whether theories can be really ‘utilized’ to reach social work’s aims. it is not the task of relational social work to seek prescriptive theories which will allegedly lead to techniques able to hit specific functional targets. Donati. Likewise.
in order to emphasize that distance must be maintained from all those forms of introspection typical of psychology. The analysed expression could therefore be reformulated as follows: Social work operates at the points where people interact among themselves. facilitates and offers guidance. But here we are discussing relational potential. ‘Social work intervenes at the points where people interact with their environments’ In light of everything said thus far.sagepub.482 International Social Work 55(4) 7. 2012 . and indeed is stimulated by them. Having said this. for better or worse. In actual fact. their associative efforts become more intense and more productive. they will usually seize such opportunities and soon realize their benefits (as in mutual help groups. It only intervenes as a last resort. we may once again ask a terminological question: does social work really ‘intervene’? The word ‘intervene’ literally means ‘interfere in other people’s business’. However.6. let alone concerned to interact with them. Environments raise challenges or create niches within which people can. the desire and capability of people to establish bonds: when the matters to be remedied concern serious questions of life itself. it is still of interest to ask in what sense the locus of an imaginary ‘intervention’ of this kind might be that mysterious ‘razor’s edge’. people interact only with other living beings on a par with them. see Steinberg. If these individuals are helped to join together in a united whole such as a group. with regard to the considered expression. some serious semantic issues arise. social work accompanies. If not a question of survival.com at Central European University on November 25. By definition. Downloaded from isw. there is an interaction between two distinct parties if both of them act in relation to each other. We know that individuals who are vulnerable frequently isolate themselves because of embarrassment or a suspicion of others. We may doubt that social work seriously understands the word in this sense. as Levinas (1972) would say. develop shared strategies for action. ‘where people interact with their environments’. If we examine the issue more carefully. however. while they are all influenced by the impersonal ‘environments’ in which they act. It is also doubtful that human beings literally act with the environment. Strictly speaking.2 Relational theory accepts that social difficulties powerfully influence. joining together to more effectively cope with shared difficulties within their environments. Yet it is doubtful that a given environment can ‘act’ in regard to individuals: the environment is an amorphous container indifferent to its creatures. the statement is part of mainstream theory in social work. The literature has always stressed interaction with the environment. if they so wish. which remains intact amid difficulties. to modify it ‘according to my idea’. 2004).
sagepub. impersonal scale: it always works directly with real people. one may say that specific social work practices are geared to the defence of human rights and justice. we must reiterate that it lies primarily with politics. Social workers are closely concerned with these principles (O’Brien. as if ‘fulfilling’ these rights or ‘guaranteeing’ them directly were the essential competence of the profession. who work to protect these principles through universal measures. Similarly. If we ask where the responsibility to ensure general respect for human rights and social justice lies. then we can appreciate the tone of the global definition. and b) it is an elementary principle of social justice (a kind of restorative justice) that social workers establish wholly human contact to ensure that the aspirations of the weakest individuals are fully heard. and support them until these have been fulfilled. the term ‘fundamental’ can be used simply to state that these principles are of great importance. to ‘associate’ to deal with their problems. even if only tangentially. as they themselves have defined them. 2012 . but it is doubtful that they can work primarily to establish them or to guarantee them in a general and abstract sense (Murdoch. If we look at the ethical roots of the profession. though it should instead make it explicit. Thus we can only state that: a) the right to be actively involved in decisions which relate to a person’s life is a fundamental human right – even if that person has accepted welfare services and professional interventions. It is only with these semantic specifications that we may say that the two principles mentioned in the definition pertain in essence. and. ‘Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work’ Social work has always held the values of human rights and social justice in high esteem (Healy. and conceive justice and rights as the cornerstones of its methodology. 2011). for example in deontological terms. However. The definition is ambiguous on this point. and of social policy in countries with mature welfare systems. so that as social workers do good they never inadvertently breach those fundamental values. The defence of social justice through redistribution or the protection of fundamental human rights is the statutory duty of welfare systems – in countries where they exist – and therefore of policymakers. Downloaded from isw. 2011). to social work practices. here and now. This is the task of political systems.3 The fundamental and deeply humanistic principle with which social workers must comply in their professional tasks is the inalienable right of the users to activate themselves. But it is quite different to claim that the protection of human rights or social justice is the main operational responsibility of social workers. 2008).com at Central European University on November 25.7.Folgheraiter and Raineri 483 7. if they wish. Social work does not operate on a massive.
The essential. The analysed expression could therefore be reformulated as follows: The principles of self-determination and reciprocity. the principle of reciprocity has a crucial methodological significance: in any helping relationship. constituent principle of a relational profession like social work is that ‘Otherness’ must be respected as far as possible. This celebrated principle must necessarily be cited in any definition of social work. are fundamental to social work. besides its obvious deontological implications. Rossiter. each human being simultaneously gives and receives help (Folgheraiter. connected with the famous golden rule of ethics – the duty ‘not to do unto others what you would not have them do to you’. are fundamental to social work. In social work. which by definition ‘manipulates’ the lives of human beings most vulnerable to abuses – even those unintentional ‘abuses’ which may paradoxically originate from the good intentions of the ‘helpers’ themselves (Illich. Another fundamental principle is the principle of reciprocity. with special reference to phenomenological and humanistic oriented ones. regardless of the origin of the problems. by exploiting the energy present in human relationships. and thereby become the controller of his/her own life under all – even the most adverse – circumstances. within the limits of his or her constitutional rights and obligations. 1977. and truly exclusive. as well as the defence of human rights and the redress of concrete social injustices. social work promotes problem-solving. The professional arena of social work is the set of the various ‘social professions’ carried out within or without national welfare systems. The principle of reciprocity states that terms like ‘workers’ and ‘users’ are misleading categories in social work because in a true ‘helping relationship’.com at Central European University on November 25. the principle lying at the root of social work is the classic one of self-determination. The principles of self-determination and reciprocity. 2011).484 International Social Work 55(4) More simply. Based on all the social sciences. Social work operates at the Downloaded from isw. the help is only produced when the worker accepts help from the interested parties as if they themselves were workers. 2004). The preceding arguments that we have made result in our concluding with the following refinement to the existing definition. as well as the defence of human rights and the redress of concrete social injustices. 2012 . Conclusions We represent but one suggestion in the debate about a definition of social work that has universal relevance.sagepub. and that each individual must be enabled to achieve good in his or her life in the manner that she or he wishes.
and R. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Social work promotes and accompanies the desired social changes which emerge as a reaction from shared perceptions of severe hardship. M. Harlow: Addison Wesley Longman. edn. and even to help the ‘helping professionals’ themselves in the exercise of their statutory tasks. (1958) ‘Working Definition of Social Work Practice’. so that they feel they are able to contribute towards the building of common well-being. rev. Notes 1. In accordance with the spirit of empowerment. M. in social life. L. obviously. British Journal of Social Work 34: 53–68. But here it should be specified that my interacting with Tom. Communities and Citizens. Beresford. social work promotes the liberation of people by showing trust in their real powers of initiative. Birmingham: BASW. with its customs and rules (Archer. commercial. the decisions taken at the front line make policy effective.sagepub. Bowl (2001) Taking Over the Asylum: Empowerment and Mental Health. (1997) Care. that ‘other people’ also constitute a social and socio-cultural environment.com at Central European University on November 25. Cambridge: Polity Press. and S. Bartlett. 2003). Social Work 3(2): 5–8. Barnes. but these micro-practices themselves are not the policy line. as Donati (2007: 11) writes: ‘The relational goods are those that can be produced and enjoyed only together with ones who are concerned in them. 2012 . 3. London: Palgrave Macmillan. H. (2002) Anti-oppressive Social Work: Theory and Practice. It should be noted. M. Agency and the Internal Conversation. Dick or Harry to achieve common goals is different from my living in a wider society which affects me in various ways. actual or potential.Folgheraiter and Raineri 485 points where people interact with each other and come together to cope more effectively with shared difficulties within their particular environments. Dominelli. Dominelli. (2004) Social Work: Theory and Practice for a Changing Profession. or not-for-profit sectors. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public. So. (2003) Structure. that is a relational good. References Archer. L. Croft (2004) ‘Service Users and Practitioners Reunited: The Key Component for Social Work Reform’. BASW (1997) The Code of Ethics for Social Work. Downloaded from isw. Barnes. As Lipsky (1980) has argued. P.’ 2.
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Steinberg. D. M. London: Karnac Books. Maria Luisa Raineri is a researcher in the Sociology department at the Catholic University. S. (2009) ‘Citizenship-based Social Work’. Milan. Milan. Sen. European Journal of Social Work 11(1): 15–18.Folgheraiter and Raineri 487 Schön. Webb.D. Oxford: Oxford University Press. and T. van Ewijk. International Social Work 52(2): 167–79. British Journal of Social Work 40(8): 2364–79. Author biographies Fabio Folgheraiter is Professor in the Sociology department at the Catholic University. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. H. M. Whyte (2008) ‘Social Education and Social Pedagogy: Reclaiming a Scottish Tradition in Social Work’.E. Smith. (2010) ‘(Re)Assembling the Left: The Politics of Redistribution and Recognition in Social Work’. 2nd edn.sagepub. (2004) The Mutual-aid Approach to Working with Groups: Helping People Help One Another. New York: Basic Books. Seikkula. Downloaded from isw.com at Central European University on November 25. (1999) Development as Freedom. Italy. London: Routledge. and B. Arnkil (2006) Dialogical Meetings in Social Networks.A. Italy. 2012 . A. J.
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