Journal Article

Paradigms and Politics: Understanding Methods Paradigms in an Historical Context: The Case of Social Pedagogy

Walter Lorenz

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 38, issue 4, pages 625-644
Published in print June 2008 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online March 2008 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Paradigms and Politics: Understanding Methods Paradigms in an Historical Context: The Case of Social Pedagogy

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This paper treats the case of social pedagogy, which is an important but widely misunderstood member of the social professions, as an example of how only by exploring the historical roots and trajectories of methods paradigms can we hope to understand their contemporary, cross-national and cross-cultural relevance. It locates the rise of social pedagogy as both a method and as a set of social policy institutions in the historical context of the development of the German nation state with its particular relationship to a corporatist, conservative model of the welfare state. This illustrates not so much a singular development under particular historical circumstances, but the intricate interrelationship between social policies and social work methods which are a feature of this profession in all societies. By analysing the dynamics of this close relationship with social policy, which gave rise to the ambiguous reputation of social work as a semi-profession, the conditions of a theoretical engagement with contemporary social policy developments can be determined with much greater clarity. This is necessary, for instance, in relation of the rising importance of social care in the UK—a development which appears as yet under-theorized. Parallels and differences to the social pedagogy paradigm can only be discerned against the background of the analysis of the respective relationship to social policy. This, in turn, underlines the necessity for professional social work, under whatever title it is practised, to critically observe and contribute to the shaping of social policies in order to regain the professional initiative.

Keywords: History of social work; social care; social pedagogy; methods; welfare regimes

Journal Article.  8047 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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