Epistemic discourses of ‘explanation’ and ‘understanding’ in assessment models

Authored by: Pavel Navrátil

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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Holland (2010) and Czech writers Glumbíková, Gojová and Gřundělová (2018) note that social work assessments are strongly influenced by practitioners’ own values and personal expectations, more so than their investigations of their clients’ social realities. It is not necessarily a problem that social work is affected by personal values and beliefs, though these need to be articulated and systematically studied (Hubíková & Havlíková, 2017); perspectivism is a prominent and accepted epistemic viewpoint in the philosophy of social science. It is, however, a serious issue that social work practice with clients does not strongly reflect clients’ social realities and perceptions. It is not that social workers are following the principles of perspectivism, but rather that they are epistemologically blind; they are unaware of the ways in which they acquire and use knowledge in their practice. If we want to return epistemological sight to social workers, it is important to raise and analyze the use of knowledge in social work. Since assessment is a crucial knowledge collection task in all social work, it is a useful focus for thinking about these issues.

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