The meaning of the help received from social workers in social services departments by people with physical disabilities: the consumer's view

Jeffery, George (1986). The meaning of the help received from social workers in social services departments by people with physical disabilities: the consumer's view. MPhil thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.000100e2

Abstract

This study examines the meaning of the help received from social workers in social services departments by people with physical disabilities. The main thrust of the study focuses on these meanings and is underpinned by Symbolic Interaction Theory.

The study begins with an historical sketch which reviews the period from 1601 to 1979 with reference to the nature of welfare provision in Britain for people with physical disabilities, and the changing role of the social worker in both the statutory and voluntary sectors.

This is followed by an examination of Symbolic Interaction Theory, through its historical development, to modern schools of thought, and, in particular, to the Chicago School and the work of Herbert Blumer. This section closes with balanced criticisms of Symbolic Interaction Theory.

The research methodology draws freely on the work of Herbert Blumer, particularly his premises, root images and key concepts which suggest a qualitative research design using an interview schedule for data collection. The interview schedule uses two samples of respondents, people with physical disabilities and social workers in social services departments. It is structured through three stages of the career of people with physical disabilities through a social services department, namely the referral, the active and the termination stages, and through two levels of interaction, namely between them and social workers, and between them and the social context.

A discussion follows which examines the findings from these interviews, and compares the meanings held by people with physical disabilities with those held by social workers. Other research studies are reviewed in the light of these findings.

Finally, once more drawing on the work of Herbert Blumer, the study presents a summary and conclusions along with suggestions for a way forward for people with physical disabilities.

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