A Social Worker's role is described as being both an agent of social control and an agent of social change. Discuss what you understand this to mean. Analyse the dilemmas that performing these two roles might cause for Social Workers.
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Caroline Ayanru Access to Social Work Training Social Work Practice Assignment No. 1 Topic: A Social Worker's role is described as being both an agent of social control and an agent of social change. Discuss what you understand this to mean. Analyse the dilemmas that performing these two roles might cause for Social Workers. The Social work profession grew out of the assistance activities of the 19th Century Charitable Organisations. Formally, all forms of Private voluntary charitable activities, including those of untrained, civic-minded individuals, were regarded as social work. More recently, however, a vast amount of new social research has made possible analyses of the social and economic needs of modern society. The shift from voluntary to statutory work has now rooted social work more firmly within a legal framework of responsibilities. Also, the beliefs of modern social workers appear to be practically the opposite of the principles of social assistance developed by the founders of the profession and are able to successfully effect changes to welfare requirements. It is therefore likely that in so doing they can fail to be inspiring mentors to those welfare recipients who need to be motivated and guided. Ironically, herein lies the dilemma of a Social Worker's role both as an agent of social control and an agent of social change. Social work professionals' activities are aimed generally at enriching and enhancing individual and group development or at alleviating adverse social and economic conditions.
These also include adoption services to abused and neglected children, foster-home care, children's Homes and special schools for juvenile- training as well as local community organisations and neighbourhood service centres. Other funds go to schools' social work, psychiatric clinics and mental health centres, drug-abuse programs, programs to improve inter group relations. Social workers may be employed in varied social settings. Social workers play an important role in co-ordinating of all the programs of different agencies so as best to meet community needs for health and welfare services. Because of the important roles they play, they are known to be agents of social control and social change. The role of a social worker involves mediating between clients and different organisations and communities. This is a double-edged role, consisting of elements of care and control both of which can be empowering and oppressing. Social caseworkers deal directly with the individual or the family. They work in family service agencies, medical and psychiatric hospitals. The social work group is usually concerned with planning or leading activities. Social planners are social workers who conduct research and help develop welfare policies. They all have to work within a legal framework of responsibilities. The nature of the relationship between the social worker and service users is an essential element. The ability to communicate with and relate to others in times of needs is a very necessary social work skill.
found that most of the clients in their study saw social workers as more positive and caring than the agency from which they came. Clients also found activities by social workers helpful. Rees and Wallace (1982) suggest 'By doing things or attempting to do things, social workers confirm their concern and willingness to help. Activities include advice-giving and making arrangements on behalf of clients. Such activities have not always been valued in the social work literature for example, advice giving has been seen as contradicting the principle of Client self-determination, Biestek (1965) and making arrangements on behalf of clients as encouraging the client's dependence. Clients do not appear to share these reservations. For example, one client gave the following reasons for finding his social worker helpful, 'he gave advice about social security, would go to court or write a letter, I don't have to stammer out to someone who has no sympathy', Lishman (1988). Effective communication is an essential component of social work activities, for example, providing basic care, giving advice, and making assessments, counselling, writing reports and acting as clients' advocates. Social workers need to be aware of the potential meanings of their presentation, actions and aspects of the work environment. Clients evaluate and interpret communications both positively and negatively. Finally it is important that social workers take their functions from the defined responsibilities and role of their agencies. Besides a commitment to this philosophy, social workers must also understand that that value base mentioned earlier in this essay are transferable skills and can be applicable across a range of settings and can be developed.
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