Paradigms and Politics: Understanding Methods Paradigms in an Historical Context: The Case of Social Pedagogy
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This paper treats the case of social pedagogy, which is an important but widely misunderstood member of the social work methods family, as an example of how only by exploring the roots of such ‘foreign’ paradigms can we hope to set in motion an understanding of their contemporary, cross-national and cross-cultural relevance. It sets out to locate the rise of social pedagogy as both a method and as a set of social policy institutions in the historical context of the development of the German nation state with its particular relationship to the model of a corporatist model of the welfare state. This will illustrate not so much a singular development under particular historical circumstances, but the intricate interrelationship between social policies and social work methods which are a feature of this profession in all societies. Indeed, by recognizing the dynamics of this relationship, which gave rise to the ambiguous reputation of social work as a “proper” profession, the possibilities of an engagement of methods with contemporary social policy developments can be determined with much greater clarity. The paper will conclude by demonstrating, that even in countries such as the UK and Ireland, where the social pedagogy paradigm did not find widespread acceptance, many equivalent forms of practice exist and that there are distinct advantages in going beyond labels to recognize the historical importance of commonalities and of future shared European agendas for social work.
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