Desktop version

Home arrow Sociology arrow Social Change and Social Work

The Case of Social Pedagogy in Corporatist Welfare Models

In considering the link between social policy developments and methodological approaches in the social professions the case of social pedagogy plays a particularly significant role which so far has been neglected. While social pedagogy might appear to be a particular German development it resonates also in other national and political contexts, though not to the same extent and with significant modifications (Storø 2013).

In the German concept of social pedagogy two developments coincide: one is the cultural and political concern with the unification of Germany in the nineteenth century, a movement which had a strong 'educational' component in as much as bourgeois and intellectual aspirations regarded it as a historical and cultural project to form a coherent 'nationhood' out of the disparate German states which had played such a divisive role since the Peace of Westphalia of 1648. On the same lines the social integration of the nation, given the rise of social problems, was also considered an educational project as the answer to the so-called social question; educational in the sense that education that simply concentrated on the imparting of knowledge in the school context would not suffice to equip future citizens with the skills to play an active and constructive part in the project of nation-building (Wagner 1994). The educational efforts, as a pedagogical project, had to be extended thematically to include issues of 'civic education' in the school curricula and institutionally to include out-of-school locations such as youth clubs, associations and community initiatives which addressed people of
all ages. In Scotland for instance, similar initiatives developed from the perspective of 'community education' and in the ambit of the settlement movement projects with a similar scope and underlying philosophy emerged as the precursors of the community work model (Davis 1984).

What distinguished the German version of the concept from those parallels was the second set of circumstances, namely that pedagogy, instead of originating merely as a lifeworld phenomenon, established itself quickly as a 'respectable' academic subject at university level in association with philosophy and gave decisive impulses and intellectual reference points to the movement. By comparison, the social science paradigm which was to provide an academic home to social work predominantly in the English-speaking world, did not include an equivalent applied dimension as that inherent in pedagogy, while reversely the notion of pedagogy could never be understood in its comprehensive sense outside the historical and intellectual context of Germany in which it originated (Lorenz 2008). Community work, community action and 'animation' as methodological frameworks shared many of the features of social pedagogy, but only in the version of the 'pedagogy of the oppressed' promoted by Paulo Freire (1970) did the term fi similar political resonance and practical impact outside Germany. Otherwise social pedagogy came to be associated with care work with children or more specifi with rehabilitative work with children and young people (Courtioux et al. 1981), and the sporadic attempts to lift it out of the restrictive use only for children and youth by replacing the prefi 'ped-' with 'andr-' in the 1970s did not fi wide acclaim, despite the success of the 'life-long-learning' movement which incorporates the approach of andragogy (Knowles 1984).

The reception of social pedagogy beyond the specifi social policy context in which the principle of subsidiarity prevails is, as can be observed since the early 2000s in the UK (e.g. Cameron and Petrie 2009), immediately drawn into a polarization which the conservative corporatist framework seeks to avoid. Social pedagogy's emphasis on self-generated learning processes as the key to coping with social challenges, like social work's reference to self-determination and ego-strength and way back the moralistic model's favouring of self-help, can either assume an emancipatory connotation when the person's own efforts are based on social rights and when social policies promote distributive justice, or it takes on a punitive ring in the absence of such guarantees when the individual's efforts are counted as an indicator of his or her 'worthiness'. Therefore the social policy developments in Germany, an exponent of the Bismarckian approach also in the post-World War II era, embroiled the social pedagogy paradigm in the same confl over its assumed political neutrality as did the social policy regimes of other European countries for the social work paradigm and did not allow the emancipatory potential of the social pedagogy approach come to the fore.


 
Found a mistake? Please highlight the word and press Shift + Enter  
< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >

Related topics