Social work's changing task : an analysis of the changing task of social work as seen through the history and development of one Scottish voluntary organisation, Family Care
Cree, Viviene E.
This thesis uses a case-study of the historical development of one Scottish voluntary social work agency - Family Care - as a vehicle for exploring the complex and changing nature of the social work task. I argue that social work is best understood as a discursive formation - that is, a collection of contradictory and competing discourses that come together to frame the task of social work, defining not just its capabilities but also its potential. I argue that there is no essential social work task, but that on the contrary, social work has always been subject to competing claims of definition and practice. It is only therefore by exploring the different discourses within social work that we can begin to understand what social work is and might be today. Family Care, although today a relatively small and specialised voluntary social work agency, offers in its historical development over the last eighty years a useful cross-section of some of the concerns which have been central to the formation of the social work task. The discourses which form the basis of my investigation and analysis are as follows :- vigilance and social purity ; Christian ethics and values ; professionalism ; the "psy" discourse ; feminism and familialism ; welfare ideologies. I conclude that the very complexity and diversity which is endemic in social work is a cause for optimism. Accepting the limitations and responsibilities which are a necessary part of social work, we should strive to make the social work task as non-oppressive and as just as possible.