Paradigms of Social Work: Alternative Perspectives on Social Work Practice Theory

Malcolm Payne

Medailon autorů:

Prof. Malcolm Payne is a writer, blogger, educator and consultant in social care and end-of-life care management and practice, Emeritus Professor, Manchester Metropolitan University, Honorary Professor, Kingston University, pedagogue, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovak Republic and formerly director of psychosocial and spiritual care, St Christopher’s Hospice, London.


This paper reviews claims that there are paradigms of social work. Alternative meanings of the concept ‘paradigm’ focus on shifts in the structure of knowledge and knowledge development in a discipline, or, particularly in the social sciences, on a looser understanding of paradigm as cluster of beliefs that order discourse within a discipline. Most discourse in social work concentrates on the looser analysis. The international definition of social work reveals three alternative potential paradigms within social work: a tripartite analysis of practice objectives and dichotomous analyses of social work’s knowledge and values bases. Review of practice theories and accounts of knowledge and values informing social work suggests that distinct paradigms exist, but these are overlapping and interacting sets of ideas, rather than representing incommensurable disciplinary shifts.

Klíčová slova:

diskurz, znalostní báze, paradigma, teoretická cvičení, sociální práce, teorie

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