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From Aristotle to Arendt : a phenomenological exploration of forms of knowledge and practice in the context of child protection social work in the UK

Smeeton, JK 2015, 'From Aristotle to Arendt : a phenomenological exploration of forms of knowledge and practice in the context of child protection social work in the UK' , Qualitative Social Work .

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Abstract

This paper attempts to explore the relationship between different forms of knowledge and the kinds of activity that arise from them within child protection social work practice. The argument that social work is more than either ‘science’ or ‘art’ but distinctly ‘practice’ is put through a historical description of the development of Aristotle’s views of the forms of knowledge and Hannah Arendt’s later conceptualisations as detailed in The Human Condition (1958). The paper supports Arendt’s privileging of Praxis over Theoria within social work and further draws upon Arendt’s distinctions between Labour, Work and Action to delineate between different forms of social work activity. The author highlights dangers in social work relying too heavily on technical knowledge and the use of theory as a tool in seeking to understand and engage with the people it serves and stresses the importance of a phenomenological approach to research and practice as a valid, embodied form of knowledge. The argument further explores the constructions of service users that potentially arise from different forms of social work activity and cautions against over-prescriptive use of ‘outcomes’ based practice that may reduce the people who use services to products or consumables. The author concludes that social work action inevitably involves trying to understand humans in a complex and dynamic way that requires engagement and to seek new meanings for individual humans.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work & Social Sciences
Journal or Publication Title: Qualitative Social Work
Publisher: Sage Publications
ISSN: 1473-3250
Related URLs:
Funders: Non funded research
Depositing User: JK Smeeton
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2016 13:45
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2016 13:45
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/37243

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