Social work intervention : A search for relevance in the Zambian context

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Brooks, Elizabeth
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Relevance has always been a concern of social work but recently there has been a rekindling of this concern as evidenced in the programme for 'social animation', 'indigenous leadership', 'client participation', and 'social indicators'. In the western world this concern has developed in relation to those sub-cultures of the community whose values and social behaviour patterns are significantly different from those of the dominant culture. However, if this is a valid concern for the West, how much more of a concern should there be for social work-practised in developing countries. The imported social welfare systems operative in these countries were developed in social contexts so vastly different from those pertaining in developing countries as to nullify their possible relevance in these new situations. Zambia is presently experiencing such a phenomenon. The implications of the importation of a foreign welfare system have been explored in an earlier work at the level of social welfare policy. This thesis explores the implications for social work methodology at the level of interpersonal problems. Here, the relevance of an action is interpreted as a function of its relationship to the social context. Given that an indigenous helping process is completely integrated with the social context as a result of its spontaneous origins in response to the defined needs of the community and homogeneity of its participants as to values and life experience, a clear understanding of the indigenous process was considered essential to the development of a relevant problem solving process. Therefore, for Zambia, using a case study approach,the Luvale indigenous problem solving process was explored in detail. The problem, person, process and solution were each identified. Some attempt was also made to establish possible effects of modernisation and urbanisation on this process. A comparison of this indigenous process with the Zambian social work problem solving process showed the indigenous pattern to be by far the most successful. The western bias of classical social work was verified. Despite the unconscious attempts of Zambian social workers to render their services more relevant to the social context, large areas of discrepancy were shown to remain and the frustrating failure of Zambian social work was attributed to this discrepancy. Out of this analysis spring guidelines that are for use in the development of a relevant social work model. Considering the lessons learned from the Zambian indigenous helping model, typical aspects of each stage of a truly relevant Zambian social work problem solving process are identified.
Social service -- Zambia. , Luvale (African people) -- Social conditions.