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Issues » 2018/6 - Assessment in Social Work »

Pavel Navrátil

Epistemic Discourses of “explanation” and “understanding” in Assessment Models


OBJECTIVES: This study aims to analyse significant assessment models regarding two epistemic discourses of “explanation” and “understanding”. THEORETICAL BASE: The question of the nature of social work is related to the discussion on professional epistemology (Lorenz, 2016). This study is joining the debate by utilising epistemic concepts in clarifying the differences among selected assessment models (Lorente-Molina, Luxardo, 2018). METHODS: This text is a theoretical analysis. OUTCOMES: The study deals with six models of assessment: the diagnostic model, risk assessment model, decision model, critical model, bureaucratic model and participative model. In the diagnostic, risk assessment and decision models, the objectivist positions are highlighted. The participative model is accented by a constructivist standpoint, whereas the critical model stands somewhere between the two extremes, although in some aspects is closer to the explanatory perspective; elsewhere it occupies the interpretative position. The bureaucratic model is a specific case, which tends to explain the objectivist logic of discourse, although it is not consistently applied. SOCIAL WORK IMPLICATIONS: This is contributing to the discussion on the construction of social work knowledge as a specific academic discipline and practical profession, as understood by the current definition of social work as per IFSW (2014).


epistemology, social work, assessment models, profession, complexity

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