Values, practice and meaning in social work research.
Just as its parent profession has grappled with identity problems, social work research has struggled to assert its legitimacy. A convincing case has not yet been made to enable it to claim authoritative status in its own right. Alternative trends can be identified as social work research has sought a niche. On one hand, it has been defined in pragmatic terms according to formal occupational definitions and the conventional terrain of social work practice. Here the focus has been on developing evidence about practice, but perhaps not so much ‘with’ or ‘for’ practice. On the other hand, strong arguments have been made for a ‘committed’ paradigm, drawing validation from its identification with minority and service user interests. It is possible to make a case for social work research as a discrete and authoritative project, on the basis of its essential values, but how far does this get us in asserting its academic merits and quality, such as when submitting knowledge claims to critical scrutiny. This paper will suggest that social work research can indeed claim to be distinctive and authoritative. It may not hold its key characteristics uniquely, but in combination they offer a distinctive sense of identity and purpose.
Citation : Smith, R., (2012). Values, practice and meaning in social work research. European Journal of Social Work, 15(4), pp.433–448.
Research Group : Social Work
Peer Reviewed : Yes