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Social Work Education and the Problem of Oppositions: a Study of New Graduates' Experiences

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dc.contributor.author Harré Hindmarsh, Jennifer Kaye
dc.date.accessioned 2008-09-05T02:57:33Z
dc.date.accessioned 2022-10-09T21:11:54Z
dc.date.available 2008-09-05T02:57:33Z
dc.date.available 2022-10-09T21:11:54Z
dc.date.copyright 1990
dc.date.issued 1990
dc.identifier.uri https://ir.wgtn.ac.nz/handle/123456789/21392
dc.description.abstract This study develops a critical analysis of social work education. More specifically, the analysis focuses on a particular element of the discourse of social work education — 'talk' of 'tensions and dichotomies between theory and practice, university and agency', especially as they are said to be experienced by new graduates. Two processes are used to develop this analysis — a critical review of literature-based formulations of the experiences of new graduates and an empirical study of new graduates' own accounts of their experiences and preoccupations. From the literature review it is suggested that the 'talk' of tensions and dichotomies is historically rooted in the institutional separation of education and service sectors in social work. This separation is rooted in the professionalisation of knowledge (and associated influences of positivism, instrumental reason and male colonisation) and in the sociopolitical predicament of social work. Contemporary manifestations of this 'talk' formulate new graduates' experiences in terms of role-organisation conflicts (bureaucratic—professional or radical—bureaucratic/ professional), transfer of learning difficulties or the reification of positivist, instrumentalist notions of theory, practice and education. It is concluded that a study is required of new graduates' own accounts of their experiences. An exploratory, qualitative case study, guided by a grounded theory approach and relying on new graduates' accounts as primary data was thus developed. Twenty-two graduates were interviewed, four times over the first year after completing their university course in New Zealand. It is concluded, from this study, that the new graduates were preoccupied with the extent to which they could express and enact their construct of 'good' social work as developed on the course. They experienced constraints arising from the principles and agenda for social work in agencies which conflicted with their own and were thus preoccupied with questions of autonomy (and integrity). A concept of oppositional practice experiences is developed to refer to graduates' preoccupations with moments when the conditions of their practice resisted their intentions. A concept of social work oppositions is developed to refer to these conditions which were characterised by radically conflicting social work agenda, rooted in structural oppositions, especially those related to gender, race, class and power. At any point in time, the graduates assumed one of five positions or ways of conceptualising oppositions, together with a plan of action to deal with them — positions of battle, niche, indifference, compromise or detached strength. They also used a range of specific actions — initial accommodation, seeking promotion, developing supportive colleague or supervision relationships, and withdrawal. These responses to experiences of opposition are examined. It is concluded that the alternative formulations available to explain new graduates' experiences are based on one of three sets of assumptions —technical rationality, practical reflectivity or critical reflectivity. Furthermore, this study raises questions regarding the constructs of autonomy evident in the social work world and regarding the usefulness of current critical social sciences. Implications are also explored for social work education in general and in relation to both courses and agencies. en_NZ
dc.language en_NZ
dc.language.iso en_NZ
dc.publisher Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
dc.title Social Work Education and the Problem of Oppositions: a Study of New Graduates' Experiences en_NZ
dc.type Text en_NZ
vuwschema.type.vuw Awarded Doctoral Thesis en_NZ
thesis.degree.discipline Education en_NZ
thesis.degree.grantor Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
thesis.degree.level Doctoral en_NZ
thesis.degree.name Doctor of Philosophy en_NZ

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