Social work and the two cultures: the art and science of practice
art of social work
science of social work
social work history
L500 Social Work
MetadataShow full item record
Abstract- - Summary Recent explorations of the nature of contemporary social work, tending to differentiate managerial and techno-rational practices from ‘real’ relationship-based interventions, are suggestive of there being an art and a science of social work, echoing Snow’s argument in his ‘Two Cultures’ lecture of 1959 about the especially English tendency to damaging divisions in academia. The concept, and the dangers Snow identified, are revisited and applied to social work in this theoretical article, with the science of practice being located in evidence-informed approaches and its art in relationship-based work. - Findings Social work has long incorporated approaches which draw on the strengths of the humanities and science ‘cultures’ respectively, and recognises what each has to offer; it may also be considered to some extent as belonging to a ‘Third Culture’, along with other applied fields. Common to any culture, however, as applied within the profession, must be its ethical base. - Applications As Snow noted, polarity between art and science can lead to common ground being lost which in social work may ultimately disadvantage service users. The professional value base provides the basis for a ‘social work culture’ as long as this is not itself divided by unconstructive schisms.
CitationCornish S (2016) 'Social work and the two cultures: the art and science of practice', Journal of Social Work 17 (5), pp.544-559.
JournalJournal of Social Work
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Co-determining the outcomes that matter with young people leaving care: a realist approachHarris, Julie Philippa (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2014-08)In the current policy, commissioning and delivery environments for services aimed at improving the lives of children and their families, increasing priority is placed on the ability to measure and demonstrate the effectiveness of social welfare intervention. This is particularly acute for voluntary sector services that increasingly provide services on behalf of local authorities and operate in a highly competitive environment in which the ability to demonstrate effectiveness and value for money can ultimately determine survival. However, social welfare intervention is delivered in the context of complex social systems in which a multiplicity of factors interplay between those individuals who are managing, providing and using social services. This complexity presents significant methodological challenges in terms of understanding the effect of intervention on individuals’ lives. Often the pressures to produce highly aggregated data about outcomes mean that the experience and the voice of those using services is overlooked and the connection between data and lived experience is lost. This thesis describes the evaluation of an approach to measuring outcomes known as Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS). This places the service user at the heart of measuring outcomes whilst collecting data that can be used to evaluate effectiveness within a service, or comparatively between services, or between service user groups. The approach was implemented with practitioners and young people within the context of a leaving care support service provided by a voluntary sector service. The GAS implementation was evaluated using a realist research strategy in order to understand the ways in which a complex policy and operating environment interplayed with the challenging contexts of transition for young people and their heterogeneous pathways in leaving care. For a variety of reasons, explained within this thesis, participation levels in the trial were low and therefore quantitative data regarding outcomes was too limited to be conclusive. Nevertheless the study represents a useful pilot of this approach and highlights the importance of context in determining results when introducing new approaches to outcomes measurement into practice environments. The findings that emerge from the evaluation betray a concerning picture of the pressures and constraints on practice experienced by a large leaving care service in the current climate of cuts to local authority funding and statutory services. As opposed to being an independent or somewhat removed undertaking, this study was concerned to frame ‘evaluation’ and ‘outcomes measurement’ as participatory and reflexive activities that should be embedded within service delivery. By so doing, it aimed to facilitate reciprocal or ‘bi-directional’ learning between providers and the users of services to underpin interventions, particularly with vulnerable populations of service users. Given that the support provided by leaving care services may represent the last intervention before young people disappear from the system’s view, this is particularly significant in supporting them to develop agency and self-determination to take them through the often compressed and accelerated journeys that characterise adolescence for this group.
The Social Care Institute for Excellence and evidence-based policy and practiceFisher, Mike; University of Bedfordshire (Oxford Journals, 2014-12-04)This paper reviews the lessons for evidence-based policy and practice (EBP) arising from the work of the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), a government-funded agency established in 2001 to improve social care in the UK. The paper describes a ten-year programme developing an inclusive approach to what counts as knowledge, and the challenges in ensuring that knowledge is relevant to improving practice in social work and social care. These challenges include reviewing what counts as evidence in EBP, changing the relationship between EBP and practice, and recognising the scientific value (as well as the moral imperative) of including the knowledge held by people who use services. In methodological terms, the work includes developing systematic qualitative synthesis to take account of a broader range of evidence and economic evaluation appropriate to social care. The paper concludes with a discussion of some implications for international debates about the role of evidence-based policy and practice.
Child protection with Muslim communities: considerations for non-Muslim-based orthodoxies/paradigms in child welfare and social workO’Leary, Patrick; Abdalla, Mohamad; Hutchinson, Aisha; Squire, Jason; Young, Amy; Griffith University; University of South Australia; University of Bedfordshire; King’s College London; University of Johannesburg; et al. (Oxford University Press, 2019-07-20)The care and protection of children are a concern that crosses ethnic, religious and national boundaries. How communities act on these concerns are informed by cultural and religious understandings of childhood and protection. Islam has specific teachings that relate to the care and guardianship of children and are interpreted in diverse ways across the Muslim world. Islamic teachings on child-care mostly overlap with Western understandings of child protection, but there can be some contested positions. This creates complexities for social workers intervening in Muslim communities where the basis of their intervention is primarily informed by a non-Muslim paradigm or occurs in secular legal contexts. The purpose of this article is to address at a broad level the issue of how overarching concepts of child protection and Islam influence social work practice with Muslim communities. It addresses a gap in practical applications of the synergy of Islamic thinking with core social work practice in the field of child protection. For effective practice, it is argued that social work practitioners need to consider common ground in Islamic thinking on child protection rather than rely on Western frameworks. This requires further research to build evidence-based practice with Muslim families.