Towards a theoretical framework for an indigenous value base for social work practice : a conceptual exploration

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Towards a theoretical framework for an indigenous value base for social work practice : a conceptual exploration

 

Author: Cheng, Yuk-tin Carl
Title: Towards a theoretical framework for an indigenous value base for social work practice : a conceptual exploration
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2005
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations.
Social service -- Practice.
Values.
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Sciences
Pages: vi, 295 leaves ; 30 cm.
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b1896742
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/3239
Abstract: The practice of social work has long been recognized as a moral, practical activity. Given the significance attributed to social work's values and ethics, it seems that recent discussions of the indigenization of social work have overlooked this crucial dimension of social work practice. The present project is an endeavour to address this seldom-explored area. My central concern in the present study is two-fold. First, since the endeavour of exploring the "indigenous value base for social work practice" faces a number of theoretical and conceptual difficulties, the author hopes to prepare the ground for this endeavour by clarifying one theoretical dilemma. That is, the dialectic of universal norm and particular cultural understanding that besets our discussions of the need for developing an indigenous perspective on social work values. Second, the author attempts to outline a preliminary approach or, say, perspective for the study of social work values in the local context. In the first chapter of this thesis, the author establishes that the endeavour to develop an indigenous perspective of social work values is beset by a theoretical dilemma. In the second chapter, the author surveys the relevant literature of indigenization in social sciences and social work to identify the connections of the prevalent understanding of the idea of ‘indigenization’ with a positivistic conception of empirical validation and the idea of value neutrality. At the end of the second chapter, the author points out that the prevalent understanding of the idea of ‘indigenization’ presupposes that the language of social explanation and normative evaluation is discontinuous. To pave the way for a re-consideration of this seemingly self-evident assumption, in chapters three and four we articulate an account of values as constituted by shared social meaning. In the fifth chapter, the author explores the relationship between social work values and local cultural values by focusing on a representative value of contemporary social work discourses: empowerment. The author argues that a critical-hermeneutical analysis will enable us to see that in evaluating the moral beliefs of the local people, we could not avoid the issue of mediation. That is, in evaluating the moral beliefs of the local people, it is necessary that both the perspectives of the critical outsider and the local people have to be taken into account. In this light, the tragic choice of either neglecting local cultural values or denying the relevance of social work values is not inevitable. The reason for this is that the assumption that it makes sense to adopt either perspective is unwarranted. Hence, the dilemma is dissolved because the assumption that constitutes the dilemma is discarded.

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