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power and social work

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Power and Social Work This essay shall begin by defining power, then will go on to discuss Marx Weber and Parson's theories of explanations which will in turn demonstrate how and to whom power is distributed. I shall then go on to discuss how this distribution of power applies to social work and the service users. Power and powerlessness go hand in hand as to have one the other must exist. As society is not egalitarian and never shall be, there will always be inequalities. These inequalities can be on both personal and structural levels. To enable us to understand power and social work we must firstly understand the theoretical explanation of the distribution of power, privilege, prestige and powerlessness within western society by looking at social divisions, class and their positions within society. Marx was interested in the theories of economic development, he believed that economy was dominated by agriculture and power was held by the aristocratic landowner, in the period when manufacture was the dominant mode of production which he called the 'bourgeoisie age'. According to Marx the history of human society past and present, has been that of class struggles. There has always been a subdivision within society into different ranks, where social positions have come into grades. The 'bourgeoisie age' has been split into two classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. ...read more.


the royal family). Charismatic (the possession of leadership often related to religious leaders) and Rational-Legal Authority (institutionalised) this organisation is seen as the distinguishing form of organisation and legitimate authority in industrial society. This authority comes with rights and responsibilities of office when procedures are made and followed by subordinates hence the authority does not come from the individuals or traditions of the office but the responsibilities and procedures are designated within the position itself. Parsons the functionalist seeks to explain the structure of society, he views society as a system that is made up of a set of inter-connected parts, put together, form a whole. These parts are the institutions of society, the family, education system, political institutions etc, all of which share common goals and together work for balance and consensus and order in society. Parsons idea was that social groups need and will co-operate with one another therefore becoming interdependent, he finds it difficult to see how members of society could effectively work and co-operate together without social inequalities. The inequalities of power serve to further collective goals based on shared values will benefit members of society and hence integrate rather than divide societies. The ranking of individuals is based on a consensual view of the importance of positions. Today in western society class differentiation does exist and has an impact on life chances and determines how we live. ...read more.


The agency itself is financed and budgeted by state, this may limit resources that the social worker may eventually offer or not offer the service user. As they work as part of a bureaucratic state they must follow procedures, guidelines and policies whilst striving amongst all this to serve the service users in such a manner as to never lose sight of the fact that they are individuals who have rights that must be respected and to ensure that the service user is empowered. Conclusion As social workers we are bound by the government's legislation on what we can and can not do for these individuals. The government has made social work a profession hence giving social workers the status then the power. Social workers are conditioned and controlled by the state as social workers are governed by the state to maintain the smooth functioning social order, in my opinion maintains the 'status quo' on behalf of the state. Therefore social workers are in fact in alliance with the state and are instruments of state power who may at times be, themselves tied and bound by the power given to them, as stated by Harris "Social Workers s power is expressed not just by what they do but by what they are, and they are subject to the very power they are themselves exercising" in Davis ,M (2000) page 28 Social workers may very well find themselves at times in a no win situation whilst they are striving to empower the service user. ...read more.

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