Epistemology and Social Work: Integrating theory, research and practice 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. 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, this theoretical paper outlines the case for a renewed approach to knowledge definition, creation and use within social work 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 methodology for the further enhancement of practice-based knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-67
JournalSocial Work and Social Sciences Review
Volume18
Issue number3
Early online date25 Oct 2016
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Oct 2016

Keywords

  • knowledge
  • epistemology
  • ontology
  • pragmatism
  • social work
  • practice
  • evidence

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