Journal Article

Beyond Retroduction? — Hermeneutics, Reflexivity and Social Work Practice


in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 27, issue 5, pages 739-753
Published in print October 1997 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online October 1997 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Beyond Retroduction? — Hermeneutics, Reflexivity and Social Work Practice

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Over the last three decades qualitative research methodologies have been in the ascent within social science. Yet social work evaluation studies have tended to be quantitative in nature, conventially relying upon the generation of criteria against which interventions are retrospectively judged. The generation of such criteria inevitably depends upon pre-suppositions, which in themselves go unresearched. As a consequence the .sense making activities on which social work interventions depend are rendered immune from critical analysis. This reflects a broader tendency for social work to cling to naive realist epistemologies, which are arguably obsolete within the interpretive paradigm in which its activity is properly located. By examining the debates within interpretive social science, this paper argues for an approach to social work assessment which avoids the pitfalls of naive objectivism and the nihilism of anarchic relativism, whilst retaining creativity, imagination and hope.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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