Social Work Essay
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Question 1 In the prefatory statement of Chapter 2, Bradford, Sheafor and Scott, says that “the main focus of social work, promoting general welfare” (p. 15), has become more difficult to achieve after the events of September 11 and the war on Iraq and Afghanistan. But what is social welfare? Bradford, Sheafor and Scott attempted to shed some light on the concept by first, dissecting its composite words, then, by providing a functional definition. They said that “society’s efforts to meet some human needs are labeled social welfare” (Bradford et.
al. , p. 16).
They said that “social” pertains to individual and groups interactions, while “welfare” implies concern for human well-being (Bradford et. al. , p. 16). For them, the useful definition of social welfare is as follows: Social Welfare is the translation of society’s dominant social philosophies into social policies, to be carried out by a system of human services agencies and delivered by human services professionals, in order to meet socially related needs of individuals, families and other households, groups and/or communities through programs offering social provisions, personal services and/or social actions (Bradford et.
l. , p. 17)
This definition seems to agree with how Reamer presented his own discussion on the philosophical basis of social work. But later discussions of Bradford, Sheaford and Scott on social welfare veered off from the “translation of philosophies to social policies” to a critique of social policies in the United States in the past and present administrations. This is a marked departure from Reamer’s academic and objective approached in discussing the philosophical basis of social work.
In his book, Reamer presented the different models with respect to welfare state’s philosophical foundations. They are the conservative, liberal and radical. The conservatives believe that welfare state would encourage personal and social irresponsibility more than it provides a measure of defense against poverty, unemployment, sickness and so on. The welfare state “encourages sloth, teenage pregnancy and other forms of dependence” (Reamer, p. 15). The conservatives see welfare as a charity organized by the State. It is not a right to which the members of society are entitled to (Reamer, p. 0).
The liberals, on the other hand, believe that social welfare spending in the country has been insufficient. They see that insufficiency in social welfare spending as the cause of current vexing social problems. (Reamer, p. 15) The liberals see welfare as a fundamental right to which the individuals in society are entitled to (Reamer, p. 30). The radicals present a complex viewpoint. They believe that “conservatives are correct that liberals demand too much from welfare state and liberals are correct that the welfare state has not done enough” (Reamer, p. 15).
They also believe that the fiscal policies of welfare states contradict their own purpose. The definition provided by Bradford, Sheamor and Scott appears to be neutral of these philosophical foundations since it uses the phrase “translation of the society’s dominant social philosophies into social policies. ” However, the discussion in the later part of the chapter provides a different viewpoint altogether. Chapter 2 shows as a liberal viewpoint. This is particularly demonstrated by the many criticisms on several past administrations’ social welfare policies.
The chapter also compared the defense spending with spending on human services in several administrations, and seemed to be against the trend towards less spending on human services and more defense spending. The authors showed a mark preference to increase human services spending. As a prelude to the authors’ subjective discussion of welfare in the United States, they said that the “index of a nation’s continued commitment to its people is its investment in social programs. ” The book provides an enumeration of the main purpose of social programs.
First, remediation of social problem which pertains to programs that are created to provide services intended to help people who experience difficulty in a particular aspect of social functioning. The second is the enhancement of social functioning which pertains to programs which emphasize the growth and development of clients in a specific area of functioning. The third is the prevention of social problems which pertains to programs that identifies the basic causes of difficulty in social functioning and seek to stimulate changes that will keep the problems from developing (Bradford, et al. , 25-26)
The book also provides the four specific goals of social program. They are as follows: (1) socialization of people to the accepted norms and behaviors in society, (2) social integration where people are helped to become more successful in interacting with the world around them, (3) social control by removing people from situations when they may place themselves or others at risk and (4) social changes by stimulating changes that will enhance the overall quality of life. (Bradford, et al. , 26) There are two social programs conceptions, the safety net approach and the social utilities approach.
The safety net approach pertains to programs that are planned as a way for society to assist people when other social institutions, such as family and community, fail to do so. The net safety approach is considered residual, selective and time-limited. (Bradford, et al. , p. 26) The social utilities approach pertains to programs with a view that “human services is society’s frontline manner in addressing common needs” (Bradford, et al. , p. 26). This approach is considered universal. It also calls for the institutionalization of social welfare (Bradford, et al. , p. 27)
The book provides for three categories of welfare. They are enumerated, as follows: (1) social provisions or those which are designed to meet fundamental needs, (2) personal services or those which provides problem-solving and enhancement programs and intangible services that help people resolve their social functioning, and (3) social action which help change conditions that create difficulties in social functioning. (Bradford, et al. , p. 27) Bradford, Sheaford and Scott says that “poverty is the single most revealing indicator of success or failure of social programs” (p. 0). Poverty data shows some disturbing patterns.
Gender-based data shows that there are more females living in poverty than male. Poverty data also show that there are more poor people in highly urbanized cities than there are in rural areas. The authors attribute this to the movement of wealthy people to the suburbs. The data also shows that white people are the least likely to be poor that other ethnic groups. Lastly, the data shows that more single parents are poor than married ones. In relation, single mothers are more likely to be poor than single fathers.
The authors urge social workers to examine the patterns and their causes so that the can effect change in the society. (Bradford, et al. , p. 30) However we must look at the data presented above as one of the interpretation of existing information regarding poverty. Because of the discrepancy between the numbers between male and female, young and old and white and other ethnic groups, the authors concluded that there is still discrimination in society in terms of race, gender or other factors, and seems to look at this as evidence of the need for more or better social welfare programs in the United States.
Bradford, Sheamor and Scott presented the continuing bias against certain members of the population through the available data on poverty in the United States, they called it “racism, sexism and other isms”. They focused on social factors and politics as the guiding staff as to direction or trend of social welfare in the country (p. 30). This is a marked departure from Reamer’s presentation. Reamer focused on the dominant philosophical ideas of the day and its effect on social welfare.
An example of this is his discussion on how the ideas of John Meynard Keynes on the need for the government’s increased involvements in social welfare has influenced the welfare policies of nations in contemporary times. He also said that Beveridge’s concerns that social welfare may suppress incentive and responsibility also affected the United States’ welfare policies. “Social work has complex ties with the state” (Reamer, p. 1). According to Reamer, all across history is the debate over who is in-charge of social welfare (p. 0), the private or public sector. “Debate over private or public welfare has an ancient history” (Reamer, p. 10). Of publicly-sponsored welfare, he said that: Publicly-sponsored welfare is tied to deep-seated beliefs about the goals of government and the right of citizens in relation to the states, the obligation of the state towards its citizens, the nature of political and civil liberty and the nature of social justice (Reamer, 2).
In fact he said that the advancement of publicly sponsored welfare in the eighteenth and nineteenth century was less for altruism and more for the necessity to preserve the existing social order. It was during these times that social programs devised in contemporary time have their roots. Reamer’s subsequent discussion on the history of welfare focused on philosophical antecedents. As an example he attributes social programs such as the welfare state to come from eighteen century Prussia and the civil code of 1974.
Meanwhile, Bradford, Sheamor and Scott focused on the events and situation of the country that brought about the social programs. Based on their recounting of the history of social welfare in the United States, the authors focused on the social situation at that time and how it affected the ruling administration’s policy on social welfare as well as the opinion of the majority of the population on publicly-sponsored welfare. As an example of this differing presentation is the two works’ discussion on the social welfare programs during the Depression.
As presented by Bradford, Sheamor and Scott, before this period in history, social problems are concentrated on other ethnic groups, such as the new freed black slaves or the displaced Mexican or Native Americans. During the Depression, poverty knew no color or race, everyone was hungry and out of work. For Bradford, Sheamor and Scott, the change in the policy on social welfare at this period of history was caused by the acknowledgement of the predominant white ruling class of the United States that factors outside the individuals can place him in a situation of poverty.
Reamer’s presentation, on the other hand, detailed the birth and rise in popularity of the “free market” philosophy of Adam Smith, then, its fall from grace during the Depression. For Reamer, the shift in welfare programs during the Great Depression was because of the loss of confidence in the “free market” philosophy that was very popular in prior years before the Depression. Question 2 Based on the classroom discussion, social welfare has two primary categories. They are as follows: (1) transactions that occur outside of the market system and (2) those that are designed to bring about a minimum level of care.
The first category considers those transactions that allow a person to acquire goods or services for free or cheaper than the prevailing market price as welfare. Reamer does not distinguish between these two categories in his discussion on the political philosophies of social welfare. In his discussion of the development of Adam Smith’s “laissez faire,” Reamer talked about the viewpoint of that philosophy that welfare distorts market forces. For example, the philosophy believes that labor should be free to name its price based on market forces, free from outside interference.
Since the regulation of the price of labor by the state is included by Reamer in his discussion of laissez faire, it is seen by him as an example of social welfare. This example, however, falls into both categories of social welfare. State’s regulation of the price of labor is part of labor legislation that provides for minimum standards for conditions of work. Hence, it is included in category two. But at the same time, we are talking about fixing of a price outside of the market, although in this situation it is presumed that the price set is above what the market dictates.
One way of viewing it, in terms of the first category, the receipt of wages in excess of the market is welfare. Reamer had his own discussion as to the two aspects of professional service. First, he said that social welfare is aimed at the enhancement of the quality of life. It is a concept that is often anchored in the common good and public interest. (Reamer, p. 34) Common good is based on the idea that society is a community where members contribute in the pursuit of common goals and the good of the individual depend on the good of the community.
It is a concept that is inherently communal. (Reamer, p. 34) Public interest, on the other hand, pertains to any goals that a legitimate government may pursue to bring about their economic and foreign policies. Unlike common good, it is not inherently communal and encourages the promotion or pursuit of individual interests. (Reamer, p. 35) Based on these two anchors comes the two aspects of professional service, one which focuses on the common weal and another that focuses on individual interests.
These two aspects represent the two extremes, and Reamer considers these two aspects as the central debate on social welfare today. There are many differences between the two aspects. The former believes in combining providing assistance to those in need with structural change. The latter, on the other hand, believes in providing clinical services. The primary purpose of those who focus on the common weal is the individual well-being, community intervention, organization change, legislative lobbying and other forms of intervention.
The primary purpose of those who focus on individual interests is the enhancement of individual functioning. (Reamer, p. 36) Most of Reamer’s discussion focused on the extent of government’s intervention in social welfare. There was a detailed history of the growth of public-sponsored welfare and a discussion on the ongoing debate of when public sponsored welfare is too much. In relation to publicly sponsored welfare, he discussed the concept of distributive justice. He believes that the central theme to the philosophical materials on social welfare is the redistribution of wealth (Reamer, p. 5).
The concentration of the society’s wealth in a few members of the population is seen as a cause of social problems. However, distributive justice has had different connotations across time, and is not always seen as evil or wrong by some schools of thoughts (p. 26). Another philosophical theme that Reamer discussed is the concept of welfare as a right or a privilege. There are philosophers who believe that welfare is a fundamental right of a person. This belief is composed of two traditions, the liberal and the radical.
The liberal viewpoint believes that welfare is a right that arises out of or by virtue of the financial stake of person in society. It is necessarily connected to concept of property rights and the right of the person to protect his property from state intervention. The radical viewpoint sees welfare as the protection of people from both the power of government and private property. It sees welfare as a right that is absolute and unconditional and spouses a communal vision of property rights. (Reamer, p. 30) On the flip side of the coin are those who believe that welfare is a matter of privilege.
The conservative viewpoint, for example, sees welfare as a charity not a right. This means that the members of the society cannot demand it of the state. It is only through the benevolence of the state that welfare is given. (Reamer, p. 30) Welfare as right or privilege only looks at the extreme sides of the issue, there are those who look welfare as not as a right or as a charity. This is called the intermediate view. This viewpoint believes that welfare should be balanced against competing claims, such as political, social and economic ones. (Reamer, p. 30)