Reaching the person-social work research as professional responsibility
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The current debate on social work research methods shares some of the features of a general ‘crisis in epistemology’ evident in many academic disciplines which in turn is related to unresolved issues concerning scientiﬁc knowledge production in modernity. Social work’s own attempts to develop a research basis, as its entry into modernity, shows historically a polarisation between a leaning towards positivist models as well as an afﬁrmation of the importance of reﬂecting on personhood and the self in line with hermeneutic principles. It is hypothesised that political interests emanating from neoliberal social policies favour currently a positivist meaning of ‘evidence’ in practice research with implications of ‘value neutrality’ while social work practice needs to always address persons and their structural context equally. Therefore the polarisation between positivist and hermeneutic research orientations must be maintained as an impulse to acknowledge speciﬁc human qualities. Beyond implications for researcher- practitioners this perspective also contributes to a better understanding of future directions of epistemology in other disciplines.