Social Constructionism in Social Work: Moral Relativism or Bulwark against the Fetish of Technique?

Social Constructionism in Social Work: Moral Relativism or Bulwark against the Fetish of Technique?
The concept of social constructionist draws significantly from the works of Berger and Luckmann, who consent that knowledge is mostly constructed socially to include the individual knowledge reality (Hibberd, 2005). With regard to the aspect of social work, its primary objective is to improve the capability and capacity of individuals to address and cope up with the problems that individuals face in their daily routines. In addition, social care also aims at improving the environment in order to ensure that human demands are met effectively. From this viewpoint, it is arguably evident that the social care is somewhat a form of social change agent, which constitutes the fundamental mission of social care. Imposing change requires having an in depth understanding of the present social context (Shotter & Lannamann, 2002). With regard to the current times, scientific knowledge plays an integral role in having a comprehensive knowledge of the social context. Social care makes use of the theoretical frameworks and models in order to achieve its underlying objective (Stojnov & Butt, 2002). An integration of knowledge and theoretical frameworks helps social workers to accurately define the situation and devise appropriate methodologies for intervention. This implies that social work and practice significantly relies on theoretical models (Kukla, 2000). The main purpose of this paper is to assess Social Constructionism in social work. The paper outlines what is Social Constructionism in the area of social care. In addition, the paper discusses moral relativism and Social Constructionism in the social care context outlining the main scholars that criticize Social Constructionism for being morally fuzziness (Wilson, 2005).

Social Constructionism in the area of social care
The concept of Social Constructionism is based on the premise that reality is in most cases socially constructed. In addition, Social Constructionism lays much focus on language as play an important role in interpreting experiences of people (Witkin, 1999). The concept Social Constructionism consents that reality cannot be known, except for the interpretations that people attach to it. Discoveries on reality are reached by the establishment of hypothesis, after which they are tested (Poerksen, 2004). This denotes the significance of having a comprehensive understanding of the reality of people prior to social work practice. There are mainly two approaches that attempt to define what reality actually is. The first approach, called classical empiricism, consents that there is truth out there and does not depend on the individual (Hibberd, 2005). The second approach is Social Constructionism, which consents that reality can be defined by the individual beliefs, thoughts and perception. This approach makes a significant contribution towards the achievement of the goals and objectives of social work through laying much emphasis on the aspects of individualization, involvement, self-determination and human rights and social fairness. Social Constructionism and the practice of social care are of the viewpoint that participation is integral in making social change successful. This poses the need to assess the impacts that Social Constructionism has on the effective practice in the context of social care (Searle, 1995).
Gergen (1985) played an integral role in setting the momentum of the concept of Social Constructionism as evident in his elements of social psychology. Gergen further elaborated how individual acquisition of knowledge and ideas regarding reality mostly relies on the social processes compared to the individual processes. Due to the proposition that individual knowledge is mostly constructed socially, it is subject to variation across different periods of history and cultures that have different beliefs regarding nature and the concept of human development. Social construction of knowledge varies in a similar manner that cultures vary across diverse people. Social constructionists claim that meanings are determined by specific social setting that individuals find themselves in; as such, the practice of social work should aim at developing interventions that are tailored to specific groupings. The significance of Social Constructionism is noted by Payne (1997), who asserts that reality is an example of knowledge that plays an important role in determining human behavior. People usually arrive at an integrated perception of reality through knowledge sharing that takes place via the social processes. Human behavior is principally influenced by the social conventions that are subjective to the shared knowledge, which in turn results to the institutionalization of the social conventions and attach meanings to them (Grant, 2000). This means that social systems are usually defined by the individual understandings and the meanings that the society attaches to the social conventions.

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