Murli Desai, pp. 236, Rs. 550, Rawat Publications
Development of resources for social work education such as subject curricula and methodology of social work education is one of the major activities of the Social Work Education and Practice Cell, that aims at strengthening of social work education in India. A Subject Curriculum Series for Social Work Education is, therefore, initiated with this book.
This book on Ideologies and Social Work is prepared as an outcome of preparation for teaching the course on the History and Philosophy of Social Work to first year students of MA in Social Work at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), since 1993. It attempts to add to the much needed literature in the field as the last book on the subject was published by A.R. Wadia in 1961. It will be useful for the 125 institutions of social work education in India, each of which offers this subject. The Model Curriculum on Social Work Education by the University Grants Commission (2001) lists two subjects: Social Work History and Ideologies and Contemporary Ideologies for Social Work in the core domain of social work education.
This book uses the term 'ideologies' in the title instead of 'philosophy'. Philosophy is a form of inquiry or study of the mysteries of existence and reality through a process analysis, criticism, interpretation and speculation (Feibleman, 1986). Ideology resembles philosophy, but it is a system of thought based on related assumptions, beliefs and explanations that imply inevitability of choice, choice unsupported by reason, and its urgency (Hunt, 1978). It is the ideologies, rather than the philosophies, that seem to have influenced social change and, therefore, social work. It is the history of ideologies that helps us understand the roots of the contemporary reality, including the roots of the profession of social work. In social work, one uses the terms 'approaches' to convey differences in the forms of intervention. These approaches also can be understood better with reference to the ideologies that influence them.
The concepts of history, ideology and social work are organised in a conceptual framework, in order to analyse as well as make comparisons across social work approaches. The history of origin and development of an ideology or social work approach is first examined in its sociological/cultural/political/economic context. While linking different ideologies, the critique and implications of the previous ideology/approach are also examined, as these are often the context for a new ideology/approach to emerge. The construct of ideology of an approach comprises of the perception of people and of social problems, the ideals and the ethics, status of the benefactors and their motives for being benefactors, their goals for social change, their approach to social change/intervention, and their relation with the beneficiaries.
Besides the introductory chapter on conceptual framework and curriculum planning, the typescript is divided into six curriculum modules. These modules are arranged to undertake a critical inquiry into the Western history of ideologies before the Indian history of ideologies, as the former has influenced the latter since the modern age. Similarly, the history of ideologies of social change is examined before the history of ideologies of social work profession as the latter developed in the context of the former. The contemporary ideologies for social change and social work are then discussed in the context of globalisation. The methodology of education that is suggested aims at exploring and understanding one's own set of beliefs, based on one's socialisation.
A vast amount of relevant literature is available in the disciplines of sociology, political science, history, philosophy and social work, on each of these modules and on many of the topics within each module. It has been a mammoth task to identify the relevant matter and present it in a language that is succinct and digestible to students, at the risk of oversimplifying the matter. While carrying out this task, the overall purpose and context of social work education and the varied disciplinary backgrounds of social work students have been kept in mind. I must say that organising knowledge for teaching this subject has been a most gratifying experience for me. Understanding the history of ideologies for social change has helped me understand the roots of social problems of today, the limitations of the ideologies of professional social work to deal with them as well as directions for the profession in the contemporary times.
I take this opportunity to thank my co-teachers for this course, Ms. Jeroo Billimoria, Prof. Vimla Nadkarni and Mr. Parth Sarthi Mondal, for their suggestions and encouragement for this book. The course plan was reviewed in a small group as a part of the MA programme in social work at the Institute. While the book was being prepared, I presented several papers based on it at national and international seminars. The discussion that followed helped me to enrich the modules further. Most of all, every batch of students whom I taught, taught me how to teach the next batch better. I dedicate this compendium to these students. I immensely thank Prof. P.D. Kulkarni for writing a foreword to this book. Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the suggestions made by Prof. R.R. Singh, Director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences for his suggestions to further enrich the typescript. I hope that departments of applied social sciences as well as schools of social work will find this book useful for reference for their curriculum planning and students will find it useful for studying the course.
Professor and Head
Social Work Education and Practice Cell
Tata Institute of Social Sciences