Taking care of Wellbeing – the welfare system in society.

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Rasmus Ahrenkilde
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
This thesis has a threefold scope:
1) How is it possible to help people who want to become social workers’, to be able to interact with clients in a conscious and open-minded way? A) An obstacles can be seen from social workers being those who are at the frontline when it comes to letting people in society know, what society will tolerate. B) Another obstacle could be social workers own interest in reaching a higher status. It is debated at least in Nordic discourse if social workers has an actual professional identity, as it is unclear if they should understand themselves as part of the states regulation system or should identify with the clients and lower classes with whom they work. Also there seem to be rather unclear lines for what one studies, when one is being educated as a social worker or social work scientist. It is said, that there is no theoretical core. This drives forward an interest in heightening or rather clarifying the theoretical area (as the standards are quit high). Could there be found a meta-theory or some guidelines so the field would be less interdisciplinary and eclectic? The problem is, that this might distance social workers from their clients. Research shows, that it is a common form of human friendliness, which is valued most among people who has social needs. ------ So what to do? How to tackle these challenges for social workers giving them a stronger sense of identity, so that political discourse does not disrupt the work and lead to self-doubt amongst social workers with good intentions. And at the same time be certain that the strengthening of the social worker identity does not result in social workers losing their understanding and sympathy with clients whom it is all about?
2) In a rather different direction, the second scope is, how welfare can be secured in the future given the economic crises and the world tending to go towards a globally economical connected field with few ideological conflicts and therefore less organizational societal need for the citizens loyalty, i.e. need for loyalty can be seen as the strongest factor for expanding and keeping higher levels of social security? --- During the cold war welfare was expanded the most, as "the west" was battling "the east" on both a military and economic basis. Today global competition between nation states is primarily economic, and the West is losing ground to autocratic capitalistic societies. It Seems that Fukuyama could be wrong - political and democratic rights maybe does not lead to the most fit society in economical sense. --- There seems to be some kind of security issues for the state regarding terror. Obviously soft integrations policies tend to resolve most extremist tendencies, but given also the case with China and other Asian countries, where freedom and political rights has low priority, while growth is the primary focus, and this tend to give good results, it might be tempting for western leaders also to try to limit the threat from terror through social control - and in general give less notice to welfare on a liberal basis. --- From history we know, that it is not just the intentions or the level of help that gives society it's colors. The forms of help and the general societal understandings are of great importance. This raises the question of what they are? What is the foundation of western social thinking, and is it not likely, that it will secure higher forms of welfare, if the european social tradition is illuminated, so that workers in the area are more conscious of the tradition?
These issues I try to address through a conceptual and social philosophical historic approach. I welcome the outlook of a less conflictual global era, but fear economical convergences across countries with a more transnational elite, whose goals might be more based on economical functionality with forms of suppression then rights and social security. Looking for a broad social philosophical illumination I imagine it will not lead to a professional social worker identity, that creates problems. Philosophy has as its ideal never to be caught by one particular theory or perspective, and a philosophical character is best described as the ability to “stand in the open”. This should secure the ground for social workers meeting the clients on eyelevel while a further philosophical understanding can give status and strengthen the discipline at academia. Having this understanding clear, a Koselleck - Skinners approch is applied. Luhmann is asked for advice on what form semantics in a specific areas might take. To look for the starting point of social concepts and thinking, I start chronological from Antic Greece, the Roman empire, Medieval Christianity, the Renaissance, the Reformation, times of monarchy’s, and then arriving at the time of enlightenment, where the welfare social philosophy takes its beginning: 1) Utilitarianism, 2) French enlightenment thinking represented by Rousseau, and 3) German by Kant, they all contribute to understandings that include every citizen, and cannot accept trans-political values that obstruct either 1) the highest general level of welfare, 2) security of needs of all or 3) human dignity. It is not just one of these understandings that gives the semantics of what is going on in the social area but a mix. Conceptual historic understanding is not that new semantics takes over and changes all the perspectives of a time. Rather it understands historical process as one where more and more perspectives give nuances and of cause battle to be the most significant. Hegel highlights the individuals needs for community and mutual recognition, and from this point in history also sociology emerges and takes interest in conditions of inclusion as participation is seen as an aspect of individuals rightful welfare. Marx of cause is the thinking who starts the actual welfare process in a broader sense. With Nietzsche a more individualistic perspective for power critic is given. Being loyal to class thinking one could easily end up being part of a totalitarian party structure. Social work today must not force a certain political understanding on the client, but try to get the personal drive “to be somebody” activated. Freuds perspective does not differ a lot from this, as he founds research regarding the inner drives, and how complications might be explained and delt with. Having arrived at modernity it can be seen, that of cause radical change overtime has occurred.
3) The third and actual scope is to point to solid thinkers, that could be seen as the social concepts founding fathers. This for future work with the social theoretical tradition. In the end of the assignment I try to argue, that the concepts and thinkers mentioned does the job of giving explanation to what is going on in social work and the welfare system.
Publication date16 Nov 2012
Number of pages86
Publishing institutionAalborg Universitet, Kandidatuddannelsen i Socialt Arberjde
ID: 70884423