Hermeneutics and Accountable Practice: Lessons from the History of Social Work
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Central to this article are two concerns: It seeks to demonstrate that social work theories and methods always need to be evaluated with reference to the social policy context in which they operate and in which they might assume unintended functions. It further proposes that the dominance of a positivist epistemology in the current surge for evidence-based practice needs to be critically cross-referenced with hermeneutic approaches to theorizing that emphasize the importance of intersubjectivity and communication in the human and social sphere. References to critical phases in the history of social work and an examination of the social pedagogy paradigm, developed in the context of German social policies, illustrate the promises-and pitfalls-of the privileging of humanist theory frameworks with reference to the key exponents of hermeneutics in social pedagogy.