Epistemology & Social Work: Enhancing the Integration of Theory, Practice & Research through Philosophical Pragmatism

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Abstract

Debates regarding theory and practice in social work have often avoided detailed discussion regarding the nature of knowledge itself and the various ways this can be created and used to best effect. As a result, positivistic conceptions of knowledge are still assumed by many to be axiomatic, such that context-dependent and practitioner-oriented approaches to knowledge creation and use are assumed to lack epistemological rigor and credibility. By drawing on epistemology and recent empirical work by the author, this paper outlines the case for a renewed approach to knowledge definition, creation and use within social work and allied professions by reference to pragmatism. Pragmatism has the potential to act as an organizing theoretical framework, taking account of the role of both ontology and epistemology, acting as a functional and integrative methodology for the further enhancement of practice-based knowledge and research activity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Work
Early online date18 Jul 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jul 2018

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theory-practice
pragmatism
epistemology
social work
ontology
credibility
profession
lack
methodology

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title = "Epistemology & Social Work: Enhancing the Integration of Theory, Practice & Research through Philosophical Pragmatism",
abstract = "Debates regarding theory and practice in social work have often avoided detailed discussion regarding the nature of knowledge itself and the various ways this can be created and used to best effect. As a result, positivistic conceptions of knowledge are still assumed by many to be axiomatic, such that context-dependent and practitioner-oriented approaches to knowledge creation and use are assumed to lack epistemological rigor and credibility. By drawing on epistemology and recent empirical work by the author, this paper outlines the case for a renewed approach to knowledge definition, creation and use within social work and allied professions by reference to pragmatism. Pragmatism has the potential to act as an organizing theoretical framework, taking account of the role of both ontology and epistemology, acting as a functional and integrative methodology for the further enhancement of practice-based knowledge and research activity.",
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