Special English Issue 2012

This contribution represents the results of research carried out in some socially excluded localities in the Karlovy Vary Region within the project of the Český západ (or Czech West) civic association. The goal was to survey the current needs of the inhabitants of these localities with regard to other options for social work oriented towards the social inclusion of persons living in these places. The final discussion analyses the information obtained in the context of the theoretical aspects of social exclusion and compares the views of different authors.Zobrazit text

The aim of this paper is to answer the following question: “What social representations of people with a medical disadvantage do mediators-counsellors usually have?” The data obtained will lead to an understanding of how professionals in social work and social policy perceive people with a medical disadvantage and their employment chances. The presumption is that consultants choose their procedures based on their images of clients with a medical disadvantage. The created representations may have an influence on the form and method of how services are constructed as well as on the possibility of worker burnout. Furthermore, the social representations of the medical disadvantage may play a role in the client’s activation in the labour market.Zobrazit text

This article offers the story of a person labelled with developmental disabilities and of his caregivers. Scott is a 43-year old man who lives in a group home with four other housemates and permanent staff support and supervision. The study describes how Scott examines his agency, including matters of choice, control, independence and interdependence, surrounded by social structures. The article demonstrates how his agency is constructed and constrained in daily life and interactions with his family members, housemates, administrators, staff members, or other people important to him. The analysis drives on various understandings of agency and social structures and implies Bourdieu’s and Giddens’ theory of structuration. It also finds parallels to Goffman and his depiction of total institutions more than 50 years ago. Zobrazit text

At present, a time characterised by the transition from modern to postmodern society, social work finds itself in a situation full of changes and uncertainties. The postmodern era is distinguished from the modern one by e.g. radical plurality of world views and associated loss of confidence in the Grand Narratives, including the concept of a social welfare state, emphasis put on presence and individualised projects, deconstruction and reconstruction of meanings, divergence from the bipolar perception of the world and preference given to expertise, etc. Based on the changed concept of a human being who uses the services provided by social workers, and based on the related characteristics of modern and postmodern times, the authors of this paper point out the potential impacts and risks arising from this new situation, which they see predominantly in the danger of irresponsible handling of power on the part of the social worker as well as of the service user.Zobrazit text

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.Zobrazit text