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Social Work Science$
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Ian Shaw

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780231166409

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231166409.001.0001

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Social Work Science and Evidence

Social Work Science and Evidence

Chapter:
(p.156) [6] Social Work Science and Evidence
Source:
Social Work Science
Author(s):

Ian Shaw

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231166409.003.0006

Chapters 6 to 8 take up three central themes in the nature and purpose of social work science: science as evidence, science as understanding, and science as justice. Beginning chapter 6 with the view that social work science offers a form of “foundationalism,” I will then suggest how science serves to define the nature of social work as professional work, thus providing a foundation for viewing evidence-based practice as located close to the core of social work. I then sketch the meaning of scientific or evidence-based practice and discuss how arguments are made in their support. I will connect that to how ideas of accountability are central to this view of social work and science. The chapter then moves on to see in more detail ways in which commitments to evidence as informing practice have developed and responded to counteracting positions. I will touch in passing on how realist views of science offer important modifications of evidence as science. Feminist positions frequently have been seen as running directly counter to evidencebased practice. We will see that this is an overly simple understanding. I then reflect on the relationship between commitments to evidence and the methods of science. The chapter closes with a general assessment of evidence as the central foundation of social work science.

Keywords:   Evidence, Foundationalism, Professions, Evidence-based practice, Experimenter’s Regress

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