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Title: Ideologies, beliefs and patterns of administration in the organisation of social work practice : a study, with special reference to the concept of social need
Author: Smith, Gilbert
ISNI:       0000 0001 1077 0410
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 1973
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This thesis reports the results of a study designed to examine the relationship between professional Ideologies and patterns of administration in social work practice. Throughout, particular attention is paid to the concept of social need and to the recent reorganisation of social work in Br1tain. The report is divided into three parts. The first part focuses on the policy basis of the proposals for the reorganisation of British soda work to meet social need more efficiently. These proposals are set, briefly, 1n historical context. The most important Government reports that preceded reorganisation are then analysed in some detail. On the basis of a general methodological discussion of problems involved 1n the research use of material of this kind it is argued that such documents may be viewed as consisting 1n substantial part of sets of empirical assertions which are capable of research investigation. An attempt is then made to systematise these sets of assertions in the form of causal models about the functioning of welfare organisations at the local authority level in Britain which were Implicitly adopted by those supporting the creatiop of Social Work and Social Services Departments. It is suggested that one assumption In particular, about the relationship between notions of need and forms of organisation, is especially significant and worthy of further research study. In the second part of the report, in search of a viable notion of soda! need that might adequately serve such research purposes, several major studies of the provision of welfare services in Britain are examined in detail. In selecting these studies for review examples are taken of several quite different types of research concerned with social need; namely studies of variation by agency 1nratesr of service provision, survey studies of population samples, planning studies and experimental studies. This rather detallied scrutiny of a small number of research reports has the objective of examining how notions of need are actually worked out in research practice in the context of different methodological strategies. Major def1ciencies are detected. It is argued that a reforniulatlort of traditional concepts of need is required if a number of serious theoretical and methodological pitfalls are to be avoided. An alternative view of need is proposed paying greater attention than usual to the concepts and precepts of professional soda workers and the organisational contexts In which these professionals operate. In the third part of the report original data are brought to bear upon Issues raised in the earlier sections. By studying the processes of intake and case allocation in Social Work Departments in Scotland the relationship between social need and forms of organisation is examined. Exploratory study is reported followed by a detailed examination of one of the larger local authority Social Work Departments. By arranging this material in terms of a theoretical model of need that focuses on professional ideologies 1n social work and the day-to-clay contexts Wither Which these ideologies are operationally applied, it is argued that need can be seen not merely as the measurable property of individual clients but also as the outcome of procedures which function to cope with the routine management of clients In the agency. In conclusion, discussion returns to the policy debate. It is argued that the material which is presented, is relevant not only to central theoretical and methodological Issues 1n the study of social need, but also that it casts doubt on the validity of a basic assumption endemic to the reorganisation of British social work.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available