The social pedagogy dimension of social work activity

Authored by: Ewa Marynowicz-Hetka , Magdalena Machcin’ska-Szczepaniak

The Routledge Handbook of Social Work Theory

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9780415793438
eBook ISBN: 9781315211053
Adobe ISBN:


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To get to know the field of social work and to act in it, we adopt various perspectives, theories and methods (cf. Adams, Dominelli, &Payne, 1998; Labonté-Roset, Marynowicz-Hetka, & Szmagalski, 2003). Each of these modifies how we define social work and creates a specialized discourse relevant to that perspective. Examples are feminist, inclusion, radical, participatory, organization and management, institutional and critical currents in thinking. Social work has a multiplicity of meanings, and adopting a theoretical perspective selects from them and differentiates the scope of our practice. It particularly affects our approach to action, which, depending on the perspective we adopt, shifts:

from protection, duration, stabilization, normalization (Foucault, 2004, 2012) and standardization, distribution of goods and services, management of problems and excesses of power that we can see in relationships

through mediation and creating a space of shared experience (Dewey, [1947] 1968, cf. Marynowicz-Hetka, 2014), participation and cooperation

to change, pursuing a reform perspective, seeking transformation or amelioration of social issues or a radical perspective, involving debate and systemic change

Thus, perceptions of social work and the meanings attributed to it lead to an interaction between practitioners and discourses within the academic discipline. Consequently, we can ask whether social work is, is becoming or should be a practice activity or a disciplinary discourse in which practice is debated as a metatheory of its activities.

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