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The Help system and its Reflection Theory: A Sociological Observation of Social Work
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Social Work. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. (TEFSA)
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies. (TEFSA)
2015 (English)In: Nordic Social Work Research, ISSN 2156-857X, E-ISSN 2156-8588, no 1, 1-14 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The relation between sociology and social work is analysed in this article as a relation between observer and object of observation. As a theoretical framework, we use Luhmannian systems theory, according to which modern society is characterised by functional differentiation, that is a horizontal structure of function systems such as polity, economy, education, science, law, etc. Each of these ful fils a particular function for society. One such system is the help system, referring to social services and their practice. Its societal function is the management of inclusion/exclusion and social integration. Function systems contain what Luhmann calls‘reflection theories’, which are associated with specific academic disciplines (such as the political system/political theory/political science or the education system/pedagogical theory/ educational science). Although their basic operations are linked to science (research, theories and methods, publications), reflection theories are part of their system; their function is to reflect on the unity and meaning of the function system. This article argues that the discipline of social work serves as the reflection theory for the help system. A solid reflection theory in the help system is important in order to define guiding criteria for professional ethics to be used in social services. The lack of an adequate reflection theory can lead to the intrusion of ideologies that are inappropriate to the logic of the help system, such as New Public Management or administrative technocracy, which might threaten the integrity of the help system.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. no 1, 1-14 p.
Keyword [en]
help system; Luhmann; reflection theory; social work; social work science
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-117491DOI: 10.1080/2156857X.2015.1012106OAI: diva2:808663
Available from: 2015-04-29 Created: 2015-04-29 Last updated: 2015-05-06

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Michailakis, DimitrisSchirmer, Werner
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Social WorkFaculty of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Social and Welfare Studies
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