Social Work Services and Developmental Social Policy

Christian Aspalter

We are witnessing a great deal of development in the social work arena throughout all of East Asia, be it in the new, developing economies of Southeast Asia or in the generally already more developed countries of Northeast Asia. The above chapters have depicted past and ongoing developments with regard to the development of social work services and the institutionalization of social work as a profession in the region.

Each author has been given a relatively high degree of freedom to depict what is important to know about social work in his or her country or region. In this way, the findings of each case study have become richer, covering a wider spectrum of issues and developments. This book is in essence very explorative in nature, as it is the first book that collects data on social work developments all across a wide geographic area of Northeast and Southeast Asia.

This chapter will not repeat the findings, but rather it will add to 'the bigger picture' of social work development in this part of the world, in any part of the world (cf. Cox and Pawar, 2012; Healy and Link, 2011). The main part of this chapter concentrates on much-needed normative guidelines, as to how to extend, improve, and adapt social work services to ongoing societal changes – particularly the spread of post-industrial societies, fast aging of societies, and individualization of society, as well as continuous economic globalization.

All of these social problems acquire special solutions that require (1) monetary social policies (e.g., social security, or social assistance) and (2) non-monetary social policies that (a) develop social work services, (b) educate and guide the public in everyday life through 'advertisement in the public interest' (API), (c) city and rural planning and development, (d) develop physical and mental health care institutions, (e) develop community support and social capabilities, (f) develop cultural capabilities, (g) develop a natural and physical environment that is favorable for the prevention and cure of social problems (and less-favorable social outcomes), and so forth.

In a nutshell, this chapter seeks, with the help of normative theories in social policy and social work, to picture new needs, new methods, and overarching models for social policy and corresponding social work services.

What Are Normative Theories?

Scientists by and large follow three distinct objectives: (1) they observe developments, (2) they explain these developments, and then (3) they may add evaluative comments, distinguishing positive from negative practices and policies, as well as giving ideas of how things could be changed, what should be done, should be achieved, and what strategies and methods one should follow in doing so. The latter is the realm of normative theory (Table 10.1).

Table 10.1 Classification of Theories: With a Special Emphasis on Social Work Services

Descriptive Theories

Explanatory Theories

Normative Theories

• historical descriptions/


• describing particular social

work services

• comparing social work


• comparing social policies

for social work services

• setting up classifications of

social work services

• explaining determinants of the social work services and developments

• explaining past and current


• explaining comparative differences and similarities, deviations in social work services

• projecting past trends and

developments into the future

• evaluating/criticizing particular social work services, or overall social work systems

• identifying particular failures and successes in social work services

• proposing new methods,

or new strategies/directions/ key solutions in social work services

• proposing new social policies for social work services

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