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Issues » 2008/2 - Social Contract and our Responsibility »

Josef Zita

Binary Imagination of Social Work. Social Work as „Quiet“ Profession or Morphogenetic Social Institution?


Requirement of innovation of social work is the immanent symbol of social work. It is impossible to distinguish resources of innovation which stems from its self-reflection and inner development on the one hand and from social influence on its main framework on the other hand. We can expect strong tension between such two hierarchical phenomena, especially in times of “strong” social processes and situations. The paper reflects social work as the necessary institution of the modern society, where the statements about the social work are statements about the whole society at the same time. By using specific indicators the paper presents imagination derived from reality (social work as morphostatic institution) and imagination derived from social development (social work as morphogenetic institution). With varied focus on its main characteristics the paper presents institutionalization of social work, information capital and symbolism, professiography and its contradictions and searching for its identity, focus on relationships (human story) and performance oriented practice of social work, presence of bureaucracy and rising manifestation of adhocracy, interconnection between research and practice, readiness of social work to react on contemporary social reforms, coping with search for disabled people which is associated with “feelings of obtrusion” as the result of subjective as well as objective interpretation by materially deprived people (in relation to psychosocial deprivation), shifts in qualification requirements of professionals, articulation of future developments etc. Methodology: Content analysis of 80 auto-interpretations of working conditions and content of work of social workers – practitioners, analogy to research reports and other relevant resources, imagination in the method of grounded theory.


social system, social processes, professiography, institutionalization, innovation, human story, narrative approach, bureaucracy, adhocracy, civil servant – social worker

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