Author: Chak, Tung-ching
Title: Understanding community needs assessment from the perspective of frontline social workers in an integrated team for young people in Hong Kong
Degree: M.A.
Year: 1999
Subject: Needs assessment -- China -- Hong Kong
Social work with youth -- China -- Hong Kong
Social service -- China -- Hong Kong -- Team work
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Applied Social Studies
Pages: vii, 91, [16] leaves : ill. ; 30 cm
Language: English
Abstract: This study investigates the understanding and communicative process in community needs assessment from the perspective of frontline social workers. An Integrated Team for young people in Hong Kong is chosen as the arena of study. The Theory of Communicative Action of Habermas is used as the study framework. Concepts including subject-subject relation, lifeworld, communicative rationality and validity claims are used in analyzing the understanding on the meaning of community needs and the consensual process in setting service priority. Long Interview Method of Grant McCracken in qualitative approach is adopted as the study methodology. Nine frontline social workers of an Integrated Team are chosen as participants in this study. They are interviewed in two individual in-depth interviews on their understanding of community needs and the consensual process in resource allocation. Information is also supplemented by the researcher observation and documentary review. From this study, findings show that the understanding on community needs is never an absolute reality. Different conceptions on 'community' and 'needs' are found among workers. The paradigm of positivistic purposive rationality that regards community needs as kind of objective construct is challenged. Instead, community needs assessment is conceived as a kind of need formulation process, which is a subjective, interpretative and social activity. Subjective sphere of actor in the Lifeworld on the need formulation process is also examined. These include workers' life experience, working experience, training and perceived competence. Self-fulfilling prophecy and fixation is found in maintaining the existing view in needs assessment both in individual and team level. In examining the consensual process in needs formulation and service priority setting, workers are negotiating the meaning of community needs and the extent of consensus. There are two different rationality, idealistic and pragmatic type, found in consensus making. These affect workers agreed format of consensus. Communicative process is also appraised by Habermas' frame of validity claims. As a whole, most workers reveal that they are satisfied with the team communication. Still it is far from the ideals. It is found that there are difficulties in comprehension of various frames in the understanding on community needs. True claim is affected by the ability to convince others in communication. Correct claims are affected by the roles and structural position in the team. Whereas for the sincere claim, it depends on the mutual trust and relationship built among workers. To achieve its ideal, worker expects a more even distribution of power and collaborative decision making. Based on these findings, researcher advocate the paradigm shift in understanding community needs assessment in contrast with the original positivist approach. Rather the communicative aspects should be recognized, addressed and articulated. Reflective process on the subjective and social elements involved is vital in the need formulation process. In the consensual process of community need formulation, views of workers should be properly exchanged. Even participation and power distribution can facilitate a more comprehensive understanding on community needs.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: restricted access

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