SOCW09009 2017 Sociological Perspectives for Social Work
This module explores the sociological basis of childhood, family and the life course. Within this module, students are encouraged to think critically, and understand the influences on people in society. This requires an analysis of agency throughout. Core to this module is an exploration of; the plurality of childhood experiences across time and space; change in families in terms of structure and behaviour; the life course approach; and power and social inequalities in society. This module provides the context for social work practice and supports students to identify the driving and restraining forces for change in people's lives. It links with modules on social work theory such as systems theory and social work skills such as anti-oppressive and anti-discriminatory practice.
This module supports the achievement of the following CORU Standards of Proficiency:
- Domain 1: Professional Autonomy and Accountability
- Domain 2: Interpersonal and Professional Relationships
- Domain 3: Effective Communication
- Domain 4; Personal and Professional Development
- Domain 5: Provision of Quality Services
- Domain 6: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills
On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;
Assess childhood from a sociological perspective and explain the impact of this on social work practices.(Domain 1.5a, 6.1a, 6.1b, 6.1d, 6.1f, 6.2c).
Evaluate family from a sociological perspective and explain the impact of this on social work practices.(Domain 1.5a, 6.1a, 6.1b, 6.1d, 6.1f, 6.2c).
Appraise the life course approach from a sociological perspective.(Domain 1.5a, 6.1a, 6.1b, 6.1d, 6.1f, 6.2c).
Scrutinise the concept of social power and apply this to the relationship between a social worker and a client.(Domain 1.1a, 1.1c, 1.5a, 2.1c, 6.1a, 6.1b, 6.1f).
Critically analyse the marginalisation and discrimination experienced by people due to social inequalities. (Domain 1.2a, 1.2b, 1.2d, 1.5a, 2.1c, 6.1a, 6.1b, 6.1f).
Teaching and Learning Strategies
Teaching and learning in this module is based on weekly online lectures, and participation in blog discussions of a series of readings and case studies in order to understand the contribution of a sociological perspective to the work of social workers.
This is a blended module: 2.5 hour online lectures will be delivered weekly and an onsite workshop (seminar) will take place near the end of the semester.
Module Assessment Strategies
Assessment of this module requires students to demonstrate an advanced understanding of sociological perspectives.
Assessment 1: 50% An essay that explores the theoretical perspectives of childhood, family and the life course, the students own social construction of childhood and family, and how this all can affect their social work practice.(Domain; 1.5a, 3.1b, 4.1c, 5.1a, 5.1d, 6.1a, 6.1b, 6.1d, 6.1f).
Assessment 2: 40% In-class presentation of an analysis of case studies based on marginalisation and discrimination. This will require a thorough examination of social power, social work practices and interventions applied in each case. (Domain 1.1a, 1.1c, 1.2a, 1.2b, 1.2d, 1.5a, 2.1c, 5.1a, 5.1d, 5.3e, 6.1a, 6.1b, 6.1f).
Finally, to support active student engagement with learning when offsite 10% will be awarded for participation in VLE Subject Blog. (Domain: 3.1e, 5.1a, 5.1d, 6.1a, 6.1b, 6.1f).
Any repeat assessment will be based on failed components.
Repeat requirements will be decided at Exam Boards.
LO1: Assess childhood from a sociological perspective and explain the impact of this on social work practices.
- The social construction approach to the study of childhood: dominant discourses of childhood in western societies: implications for children's lives and social work practices
- Discourses about children in social work literature that polarises children as either 'innocent victims' at risk from abusive parents or 'out-of-control' and in need of restraint (Stainton-Rogers and Stainton-Rogers 1992)
- Historical and cultural constructions of 'childhood' and 'children'
- Analysing legislative and policy developments from a sociological perspective including an examination of the enactment of the UNCRC and Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People, 2014-2020
LO2: Evaluate family from a sociological perspective and explain the impact of this on social work practices.
- Theorising family: Functionalist, Marxist, Weberian, Conflict, Symbolic Interactionism, Feminist, modern and post-modern perspectives
- Family Life in Ireland
- The 'problem family'
- Debates about 'family values'
- Analysing legislative and policy developments from a sociological perspective including an examination of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015
LO3: Appraise the life course approach from a sociological perspective.
- Examination of socialisation from the 'old' sociology and 'new' sociology perspective
- The life course approach (Elder)
- Life transitions: marriage, retirement
- Dimensions of age
- Social construction of ageing
LO4: Scrutinise the concept of social power and apply this to the relationship between a social worker and a client.
- Social power (Marx, Foucault, Mead, Butler)
- The power of authority and powerlessness: consensus theory and coercion theory
- The self and social work
- State intervention within the family
- Exploring structure and agency as central tenets in sociology and how the tensions between these are manifest in people's lives
- Deviance and Resistance
- Role theory and the sick role (Parsons, 1950)
- The presentation of self and the concept of dramaturgy (Goffman, 1956)
LO5: Critically analyse the marginalisation and discrimination experienced by people due to social inequalities.
- Class Inequality in society (Marx, Engels, Weber)
- Impact of social class positioning, poverty, social exclusion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, illness and ethnicity on people's lives
- Social determinants of health
- Marginalisation and discrimination in society
Implications for Social Work across all learning outcomes
- Exploring how the sociological approach supports the social worker in understanding the lives of the clients they work with eg children as 'social problem's and the 'problem family'
- Supporting social workers to understand their own childhood and family, their 'model' of society, and how this may differ from their clients'
- Recognise how lives are influenced at the micro and macro level
- Exploring how their knowledge of the impact of social issues such as poverty and social exclusion informs the social work practice.
Coursework & Assessment Breakdown
|Title||Type||Form||Percent||Week||Learning Outcomes Assessed|
|1||Essay||Continuous Assessment||Essay||50 %||Week 10||1,2,3|
|2||Presentation||Continuous Assessment||Assessment||40 %||Week 12||4,5|
|3||Blog recording||Continuous Assessment||Assessment||10 %||OnGoing||1,2,3,4,5|
Full Time Mode Workload
|Seminar||Flat Classroom||Seminar||6||Once Per Module||0.40|
|Independent Learning||Not Specified||Independent Learning||4.5||Weekly||4.50|
Online Learning Mode Workload
|Online Lecture||Distance Learning Suite||Online Lecture||2.5||Weekly||2.50|
Baker, J., Lynch, K., Cantillon, S. & Walsh, J. (2009) Equality: from theory to action. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Ciabattari, T. (2017) Sociology of Families: Change, Continuity and Diversity. California: Sage Publications.
Dunk-West, P. (2014) ‘Social Work Identity, Power and Selfhood: A Re-imagining’ in Cocker, C. & Hafford-Letchfield, T. (eds) Rethinking Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Oppressive Theories for Social Work Practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Gray, J., Geraghty, R., and Ralph, D. (2016) Family Rhythms: The Changing Texture of Family Life in Ireland. Manchester University Press.
Green, L. (2017) Understanding the Life Course Sociological and Psychological Perspectives. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Green, L. & Featherstone, B. (2014) ‘Judith Butler, Power and Social Work’ in Cocker, C. & Hafford-Letchfield, T. (eds) Rethinking Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Oppressive Theories for Social Work Practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
James, A., Jenks, C. & Prout, A. (1998) Theorizing Childhood. Cambridge: Cambridge Polity.
Morrow, M. (2011) Understanding Children and Childhood. New South Wales: Southern Cross University.
Svallfors, S. (2005) Analyzing Inequality: Life Chances And Social Mobility In Comparative Perspective. California: Stanford University Press.
Journal of Sociology and Social Work
Journal of Marriage and Family
Childhood and Society
Journal of Sociology