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Issues » 2018/3 - Critical Perspectives in Social Work »

Tereza Dvořáková, Jiří Mertl

Dignified Existence contra Personal Resposibility: the Case of Children Debtors in Pilsen


OBJECTIVES: (1) Introduction of the issue of children debtors whose debt is administered mainly by the public transportation company (PMDP) in Pilsen. This company (owned by the municipality), produces indebted children whose starting position in the society is weakened to a great extent. (2) Make an assertion that the whole problem is practically unsolvable without a discursive turn that would abandon the ethos of personal responsibility. THEORETICAL BASE: We use the critical social science perspective and our theoretical stance is grounded in the concepts of critical social work and dignified existence. METHODS: Data were created through semi-structured interviews with relevant actors and collection of relevant textual production. We employed qualitative content analysis for the data analysis. OUTCOMES: The ethos of personal responsibility applied by the PMDP is inappropriate and disadvantageous from the moral, pragmatic as well as economic perspectives. It is necessary to find a solution that would be more emphatic and pragmatic. Theoretically, this could be provided by the dignified existence concept, and, practically, by critical social work. SOCIAL WORK IMPLICATIONS: It is necessary to initiate the discursive turn, i.e. abandon the ethos of personal responsibility and replace it with, for example, the dignified existence concept. It is necessary to employ more the critical social work approaches in the praxis.


children, debt, critical social work, marginalization, neoliberalism, Plzeň

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