Jump to navigation
Conceptions of family in social work education
Strasser, Heidi L
x, 67 p. : ill.
This study examines the concept of family, specifically as it is defined in social work education. Through the exploration of two textbooks used in the Master's of Social Work (MSW) program at San Diego State University, a picture of the family, as social workers understand it, emerges. With connections to educational policy through the MSW program, supervised by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE), and to the government as a major employer of social workers, there is an express link between these two institutions and defining the family. The hypothesis of this study is that social work, largely influenced by policy directives, will attempt to rationalize families by requiring them to operate according to calculable rules, "fixing" families with incompatible values. Further, descriptions of families considered "healthy" will more often present the "model" family of two white, straight parents in a breadwinner/homemaker nuclear family structure. To show this, the working hypotheses are: (1) Descriptions of "healthy" families will be fairly homogenous across family structure, gender and sexuality representations, race, and class, (2) Descriptions of diverse families will emphasize individual characteristics and not structural inequalities when explaining crises in the families, and (3) Overall messages about family, society, and social welfare will emphasize individual responsibility and deemphasize societal responsibility. By analyzing eighty-five case examples presented in the textbooks, along with detailed coding of three chapters on family, this study shows that while there is an implicit understanding of a "model" family to which other families should aspire, definitions of "unhealthy" or "deviant" families are not explicitly taught. Furthermore, the social work texts are clear on their stance that it is vital to recognize both internal and external influences on the family, neither emphasizing individual responsibility nor deemphasizing societal responsibility.
Arts and Letters
San Diego State University
Master of Arts (M.A.) San Diego State University, 2010
© 2015 SDSU Library & Information Access. All Rights Reserved.