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Title: The impact of social work professionalization on the development of community work in Hong Kong
Authors: Cheung, Kwai-foon
Degree: M.Phil.
Issue Date: 2001
Abstract: The studies of the professions in the general "power approach" prevailing from the late 60s in the West have emphasized on the strategies employed and the power and privileges attained in the process of professional development, which was considered as a power struggle among occupations for the privilege market position in society. In Hong Kong, the mainstream discussions on the professionalization of social work still rests on the functionalist views, which have been challenged since the late 60s in the West for ignoring the power issues in the process an occupation striving for its professional achievement. This local study of the professional development in social work is, therefore, suggested to be better understood within the "power approach" and the concept of professional "project". Yet, it must be recognized that this approach still falls short of recognizing the complexity of professionalism and the diversities and conflicts among practitioners within a "profession" while having significance on the explanation of certain power issues existed in the professional development. This thesis argues that the local social work "profession" is not a unified entity as perceived in the "power approach", working in a collective "project" for the professional privileges. Instead, there are splits among practitioners in different positions and service settings as these different practitioners espouse different or conflicting ideas for the professional development. Some practitioners hold their belief that the professional mission of social work and community work is to alleviate inequality and strive for justice in society rather than achieve professional establishment, which is believed to be a way for professional privileges. The study tries to delineate how a concern group, the Joint Association Concerning the Professional Development of Social Work, originated from community work field, confronted the establishment of the Registration Board and the registration system. By going through these recent confrontations and the historical development of social work in relation to community work, it tries to reveal that the professional development is incompatible with the value orientation of community work or even social work as a whole. The professional ideals of the practitioners have been ignored and the benefits of the practitioners and even the clients have not been considered by the professional "elite" in the "project" of professionalization. The 1990s is believed to be a decade in which social work as an occupation experienced its critical moment in professional achievement. At the same time, the field of social work was confronted by a series of controversial issues, the "Well-off Tenants", the "Roof-top Dwellers" and the suspension of the Tsuen Wan Ecumenical Social Service Center, happened in the area of community work. These issues had led to heated debates on whether community work should be concerned about social reform and whether community workers should adopt "radical" practice in working with deprived groups against the Government. Much concern was about the "professional" role of social workers. These controversial issues are, therefore chosen as reference to reveal how community work has been marginalized and even gradually eliminated from the field of social work due to the conflicts between the "radical" practice and the demand of professional development. This elimination of community work is believed to result in depriving the service recipients, which are supposed to be benefited from the services. The research was based on participant observation in most activities of the Group concerning the issue. Besides that, it was supported by more than forty in-depth interviews with key actors involved in the Concern Group and the dominant groups supporting the professional development, some service recipients of community work and some general social workers who did not register within the period of voluntary registration. With the supplement of hard evidences including newspaper cuttings and archives, official papers and documents, the problem was portrayed with reference to the history of social work professionalization and community work development. Implications on local professional development of social work and theoretical application of professionalism were drawn from the study. It is hope that this research report can achieve the purpose of arousing more concern and critical reflection on the orientation of professional development in relation to the clients' benefit in the field of practice as well as academy.
Subjects: Social service -- China -- Hong Kong
Social workers -- China -- Hong Kong
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Pages: vii, 260, [30] leaves ; 30 cm
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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