Sociology and Social Work: Kaleidoscopic Perspectives of Social Reality. Towards an integrated and complex model of analysis
Clara Cruz Santos
Helena Neves Almeida
University of Coimbra
In this article we will try to discuss the specificities and connexions between Social Work and Sociology, conceiving the possibility to surpass sterile oppositions and to compose an analytical and practical integrated model by the articulation, without assimilation, of the two disciplines. In fact, many traditions and trends in Sociology, particularly from the Sociology of Action and Critical Sociology, have contributed to a critical questioning of the modern Social Work professional practice, namely about the processes and strategies of social control and the paradox underlying the dissociation between the theoretical-philosophical assumptions of Social Work and its actual practice, frequently with paternalistic and normative outlines. On the other hand, some perspectives of Social Work, specially on what concerns the comprehension and evaluation of social policies and social needs, have also an important role in the (re)construction of sociological analytical perspectives. Following such assumptions, we will discuss, in the first part of the article, the analytic and methodological crossings between Social Work and Sociology, in order to consider, in the second part, the possibilities and pertinence of an osmotic and truly interdisciplinary model integrating both disciplines.
Keywords: Social Work; Sociology; Complementary Model
1.Introduction : The kaleidoscopic Frame
The comprehension of inequalities, of its structural elements and of the dissemination and reproduction processes is inscribed as an essential element of the political and professional project of Social Work. This way social work refuses its reduction to a “social technology” and consolidates a unique analytical perspective evident in the mediation among the different levels of comprehension and action. On the other hand, the reflection produced in the gist of Social Work, namely in the comprehension of the more vulnerable citizens, groups and communities needs, as well as in the comprehension of the real impact of social policies, cannot be overlooked as an important element in the (re)construction of the theoretical and axiological Sociology perspectives. This feedback of informational fluxes is essential to both disciplines and to really understand them we should withdraw from the unfinished, recurring and frequently sterile debate about the specificities of Sociology and Social Work towards a more constructive narrative about the possible ways of collaborating, strategically using their potential in the inquiry about more effective and rational social and political intervention mechanisms, in accordance with the increase and growing complexity of the contemporary social problems. The metaphor of the kaleidoscope1 illustrates, in this paper, our position concerning the various perspectives about the relationship between Social Work and Sociology. We believe that the combination of their theoretical spaces and analysis of society, its problems and potentialities will produce, in this sense, a holistic vision with combined and multifaceted readings, resulting in innovative contributes to social thought and action2. As in a kaleidoscope, the contributes present in each structure (mirror), stemming from Sociology or Social Work, will produce a new configuration of social action and intervention (lights/optics) capable of producing an effective action in social and political terms (forms). To construct this argumentative frame we organized this article in two interrelated axes. Initially, we will discuss the moments of analytical intersection between Social Work and Sociology so that, in a second part of methodological (re)construction, we can present a yet embryonary proposal of an interdisciplinary model that may...
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