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Ncercc Socialpedagogybook Chap09

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  • 1. Juha Hämäläinen Developing social pedagogy as an academic discipline Preface I strongly believe that our society is in dire need of social interven- tion. A ‘perfect’ society is conceived as lying largely in the remote future because the problems enveloping society render it difficult to make society ‘perfect’. The intervention of social pedagogical educative values will secure the continuity of the growth of society and not throw it into the past or cramp or deaden it. Social pedagogy at a glance The concept of social pedagogy is used in different contexts and in different meanings: as a tradition of thinking and action in which social and pedagogical points of view are combined, as a field of professional activities that developed from this tradition, as a branch of study in the area of social and educational sciences and as an autonomous academic discipline. These different contexts of use of the concept are connected with each other although there are interpretations of social pedagogy which are mutually exclusive. My purpose in this paper is to outline social pedagogy as an academic discipline and its meaning for development of social pedagogical activities in society. 133
  • 2. The diversity of contexts often complicates the concept. In gen- eral, social pedagogy is regarded as thought and action related to social and pedagogical matters, especially preventing and alleviat- ing social and moral distress and helping people, who are under the pressure of social problems, through pedagogical methods and frames of reference. Actually, there are two main lines having their origin in the concept of social pedagogy: the tradition of practical activities and the tradition of theoretical discussion, i.e the profes- sional tradition and the scientific tradition. These two lines are connected with each other although they have obviously different characteristics. Social pedagogy as an academic discipline arises from the line of theoretical discussion but is not independent of the tradition of practical activities and professional development. The development of social pedagogy as a professional institution and educational system depends on its development as an academic discipline. Developing social pedagogy as an academic discipline includes scientific discussion on the ontological, epistemological and axiological basis of social pedagogical research and theory formation and interpretation on its relation to other disciplines. The main point here is to sketch out the characteristics of social pedagogical thinking and action. Social pedagogy as a discipline Describing social pedagogy as a discipline requires a systematic con- sideration of the questions social pedagogy deals with. This leads us to define the themes and concepts which are important in the theory of social pedagogy. Social pedagogy is not easily identified as a distinct branch of study. It is usual to claim that social pedagogy is a multi-disciplinary field based on theories of different sciences as though it does not have an own theory formation. Thus, it is maintained that social pedagogy applies and integrates sociological, social psychologi- cal, psychological etc. theories in order to fulfil its function (e.g. Hämäläinen 1989; Eriksson & Markström 2000). Social pedagogy as a discipline can hardly flourish on this idea. 134
  • 3. Sometimes some certain methods of action are emphasized as the basic content of social pedagogy. Although, it is right to say that some methodological issues are central in social pedagogical practice, social pedagogy as a discipline is not constructed on its work methods. Rather a certain way of thinking is emphasized. The choices of methods and work stiles are consequences of thinking, not opposite. It is reasonable to analyse the characteristics of social pedagogical practice and methods used therein. According to my interpretation, the three main elements of social pedagogical practice are creative working stiles, community orientation and experience orientation. But social pedagogy as a discipline is not reduced to these. As a dis- cipline, social pedagogy is an expression of thinking. Its content and structure as a discipline are rather based on theory than on prac- tice, although it may be right in social pedagogy to emphasize the togetherness of theory and practice, i.e. the togetherness of thinking and action. But developing social pedagogy as a discipline does not happen by developing the methods but by developing the theory. In order to be an autonomous discipline social pedagogy must be based on a questioning of its own, i.e. on a questioning which differs from the questioning of other disciplines. Of course it can use theories developed in other disciplines but its own questioning leads to its own theory formation. Social pedagogy as a discipline is constructed on the basis of its own questioning and theory forma- tion. With the years, there have been many different interpreta- tions of starting points, frames of reference, tasks, and content of social pedagogy. However, some common characteristics of social pedagogical thinking and action can be presented on the basis of historical analysis. The existence of social pedagogical thinking and action is real. The idea of social pedagogy has developed through theoretical discussion and can be analysed by following this process. Social pedagogy as a science has developed as a part of the tradition of social pedagogical thought and action. It systematically perceives the basis of the scientific theory of social pedagogy, the target of research, the ways to formulate knowledge and the possibilities to apply them to social pedagogical information. 135
  • 4. The theoretical origins of social pedagogy have been defined on the basis of different philosophical and theoretical patterns of thought (see Schmidt 1981; Wollenweber 1983). In many viewpoints, it is emphasized that social pedagogy is a practical science in which not only the mechanisms of the origin of the social problems, recur- ring forms and effects of the manifestations are submitted, but also where questions are asked as to what could and should be done with the problems from the pedagogical point of view. Pedagogical work forms, programmes of action and strategies are developed to solve the problems. The social pedagogical research and theory that is related to practicality and social reality is or at least should be analytical and critical. The roots of the history of Western thought of ideas in social pedagogy was what you might call a spiritual breakthrough when the Middle Ages gave way to modern times and new and modern ways were sought to enable mankind to prevent social evils. The fatalistic conception of the world was replaced by a pattern of thought in which the activity of mankind was emphasized on. Due to these changes, political and pedagogical strategies were intro- duced to face the problem of deprivation and to promote well-being and welfare. Two types of strategies complementing each other took shape as a part of an education programme and is used even today, but with different variations. The political one is oriented towards the external reform of society. It contributes to legislation, bureauc- racy, economy, and social structure. The pedagogical strategy aims at the internal reform of society by means of education. From the point of view of social history, the earlier development of social pedagogical thought and action was connected to social revolution caused by early industrialization and urbanization. As a result, social structures of traditional class society disintegrated, socialization began to weaken, plans to take care of homes and other neighbouring societies were disrupted, and some children, young- sters and others in need of help were left, uncared for. The rapidly industrializing societies along with political action programmes and various pedagogical activities started to face and solve new social problems. 136
  • 5. An essential precondition for the progress of social pedagogy as a discipline is to clarify theoretically, the basic questions of the field. Already debates on the right questions creates opportunities for development of social pedagogy as a discipline. The development of social pedagogy as a discipline is based on analysis of the content starting from the concept of social pedagogy itself. Characterization of the basic questions Which questions does social pedagogy deal with and what business is it interested in? What is essential? The pieces of the puzzle will fall into place by following the development of social pedagogical thinking and action from its historical origin right until today and by describing its focus and content. The idea of social pedagogy—if there is one — can be found or constructed only on the basis of historical analysis. The best way to understand the nature of social pedagogy is to survey the traditions of social pedagogical thinking and action. The concept of social pedagogy was known to be used already in the 1840’s, in Germany, where the debate about the theory of social pedagogy was the most expansive and multifaceted. There is no agreement of any clear definition of social pedagogy. Instead, the question, “What is social pedagogy?”, is in itself the basic ques- tion of this branch. This question is answered in somewhat dif- ferent ways by theorists of social pedagogy belonging to different schools of thought. The problems of social pedagogy start from its concept. The concept of social pedagogy does not associate as clearly with some other concepts ending in pedagogy (for example music peda- gogy, school pedagogy). This has been very fruitful for the develop- ment of Social Pedagogy as a discipline because it forces us to argue and justify the roots of the field theoretically and from the very beginning (see Rauschenbach 1991, 1). However, there are still dif- ferent interpretations of social pedagogy founded on different con- cepts of man and society, philosophies of history, schools of science, moral theories, political doctrines and ideological movements. The 137
  • 6. interpretations are often connected to the characteristics of national traditions of social pedagogy (e.g. Hämäläinen & Kurki 1997). The basic content of social pedagogy as a theoretical concept is interpreted from three different starting points: • as educational theory and research paying attention to the con- nections and reciprocity of education and society, i.e. as a way of thinking in which the societal preconditions of education and the importance of education to the development of society are emphasized • as a theory and practice of community based education, i.e. as educational thinking and action in which the significance of community in the human developing process is emphasized • as theory and practice of social education in the sense of preventing and alleviating social problems, i.e. as a field of education directed to people suffering from social and moral distresses and threatened with exclusion. These interpretations do not sharply differ from each other. Also within each of these interpretations there is a lot of variance in details and the views therein are rooted in different theoretical starting points. Sometimes the theoretical frame for social pedagogy is led directly by ethical or anthropological doctrines. For example, a “social humanistic perspective” has been mentioned as a philosophi- cal foundation of the field (Blomdahl 1998). This kind of interpreta- tion focuses the fundamental questions of social pedagogy on some ethical and anthropological themes. No doubt, social pedagogical theory is closely connected to moral philosophy and ethics. Over the past few years, also the concept of ‘everyday life’ has been popular among the theorists of social pedagogy and social care (e.g. Thiersch 1986; Kihlström 1998; Nyqvist Cech 1998). The substance of social pedagogy is determined by specifying the essential questions and the basic concepts on which social pedagogi- cal theory, research and studies rest. They form the basis of teach- ing, research and studies in the field. Thus, the questions about the theory, content and structure of social pedagogy have — seeing social pedagogy as a branch of academic studies — concrete expres- 138
  • 7. sions in academic institutions: they show what is important in teaching, research and studies. Historically, social pedagogical thinking and action have their origin in ambition to contribute to people’s social integration and to go against social exclusion. Obviously, the theory of social pedagogy deals with these themes. From this point of view, social pedagogy in the mode of thought and action contributes to social identity, social subjectivity, social ability to act, life management and par- ticipation of people excluded socially or threatened with exclusion. Thus, the social pedagogical theory must also somehow be built on these concepts. The aim of social pedagogy has been defined in many ways. Interpretations are based on different social and theoretical con- ceptions. The examples are as follows: • According to Anders Gustavsson, a Swede, social pedagogical research is aimed at the tension between socialization and indi- vidualization i.e. in the relation between individual and society. He thinks that pedagogy on one hand is about paying attention to the upbringing of the individual and his social connections, and pedagogy on the other hand is about social work (Gustavs- son 1998). • Bent Madsen, a Dane, construes that social pedagogy aims at the questions of integration into society, and most especially integration problems concerned with pedagogical actions and functions. He thinks that it is very distinctive and contrary to general pedagogy which usually concentrates on socialization and professional qualification (Madsen 1996). • Michael Winkler, a German, thinks that the aim of social peda- gogy is to construct human subjectivity and its pedagogical and social conditions, and most especially to deal with the emerging problems and shortcomings in the building of subjectivity, and the pedagogical action that is needed to fix the problems and shortcomings (Winkler 1988). • Lothar Böhnisch, a German, talks about helping to cope in dif- ferent phases of life (Böhnisch 1997) and Claus Mühlfeld, also a German, thinks that the most important thing of all is the social pedagogical framing of a question, particularly concern- 139
  • 8. ing a human’s capacity to interact and integrate socially, coping with life and self actualisation and also the building of ‘I’ and ‘we’ identities (Mühlfeld 1995). In general, social pedagogical interest is oriented towards the prob- lems in the relationship between individual and society. From the pedagogical point of view its aim can be characterized into different concepts and the framing of its question can be connected to many kinds of conceptual systems. Inner structure of social pedagogy Sometimes it is claimed that a real discipline has its own object of research and own research methods. However, this leads to problems. According to the example of Thomas Rauschenbach, “a tree can be the object for many different sciences which survey it from different points of view (Rauschenbach 1999)”. There are also common research methods for different sciences as well as common concepts. Thus, the substance of social pedagogy as a discipline should not be sought and can not be found only by analysing its research object and methods. More significant is to ask what the basic questions of social pedagogy are. Every science has an inner structure. The whole of a discipline is divided into subareas. For example, philosophy is usually divided into two main areas, theoretical and practical. These split further into several branches according to several criteria: for example the theoretical philosophy is often divided into metaphysics, epistemol- ogy and logics, and the practical philosophy traditionally into ethics and aesthetics. In addition, there are a number of “sub philoso- phies”: philosophy of history, philosophy of science, philosophy of education, social philosophy, philosophy of law, political philoso- phy, philosophy of technology etc. Also other sciences as physics, biology, mathematics, theology, linguistics, sociology and psychol- ogy have inner structures of their own. How do we describe the structure of social pedagogy? Which are the main branches therein? On what basis is it possible to systema- tize the content of social pedagogy? How should we draw up an 140
  • 9. academic curriculum for social pedagogy? Without structuring the content of a discipline it is impossible to teach and study it. The structuring of a discipline is of course linked with the insight of its fundamental questions and concepts. At the University of Kuopio, we have divided the basic studies of social pedagogy into five branches according to the theoretical perspectives on social pedagogical thinking and action: 1 History of social pedagogy (as a part of the course “Introduc- tion to social pedagogy” in which the basic concepts of the field are also discussed) 2 Social theories in social pedagogy 3 Anthropology and ethics of social pedagogy 4 Philosophies of science concerning social pedagogy 5 Practical applications of social pedagogy (including working forms and principles, fields and institutions, client groups and problem areas) Under these topics it is possible to analyse the content of social pedagogy from different theoretical viewpoints offered by other social sciences as well as history of ideas, philosophical anthropol- ogy and philosophy of science. In the division of the branches of social pedagogy the classifica- tions of working principles and forms, fields and institutions as well as client groups and problem areas could be the starting point. The content of social pedagogy could be analysed according to classifica- tions of social problems on the basis of problem areas, for example, on poverty, deviant behaviour and helplessness (Sipilä 1979) and on the basis of institutions in which social pedagogical activities take place, for example kindergartens, schools, youth centres, family centres, children’s homes, hospitals and homes for elderly people. Sometimes the concept of social pedagogy is defined by referring to a system of institutions (e.g. Mollenhauer 1991). Generally, the social pedagogical practice can be classified into working areas on the basis of different criteria. We can think that there is a General Theory of Social Pedagogy dealing with the basic questions of the field and being formed on 141
  • 10. the basic concepts of the discipline. According to this way of think- ing, all the sub theories are applications of the fundamental theory to different contexts, for example, to early education, care for intox- icant abusers, helping the unemployed, parent education, elderly care, psychiatric work, care of disabled, child welfare or street work if you like. This means that in all the contexts social pedagogical activities express the same theoretical idea, for example the idea of promoting people to integrate into society, to free subjectivity and self-expression or to solve their problems. We can also think that there is not any fundamental social pedagogical theory but only a set of small-scale theories, working strategies and methods. In this case, the use and significance of theories developed outside of social pedagogy itself are emphasized, and it is questionable whether social pedagogy can be seen as an autonomous discipline. Relation of social pedagogy to other disciplines In relation to other disciplines social pedagogy is seen either as a subdiscipline of the science of education (e.g. Thiersch & Rauschenbach 1987) or as an independent discipline comparable with other social sciences (e.g. Hämäläinen 1999). As a subdiscipline of the science of education, its basic concepts are primarily led from the general pedagogical theory (e.g. Madsen 1996; Winkler 1988). As an autonomous discipline parallel to other social sciences its questioning is seen to complement the questioning of these (e.g. Hämäläinen 1999). Anyway, in both cases social pedagogy is seen as a dimension of both social and pedagogical discursion. An old theme in the German tradition of social pedagogy (Sozialpädagogik) is the question of its relation to social work (Sozialarbeit). This question is understandable only in the light of the development of social professions and institutions in Germany. As a theoretical problem it arises from the equate of the concepts, i.e. from considering them parallel. As a result of this, different interpretations of the relation between social pedagogy and social work are built in the German tradition: they are seen identical, sep- arate and in different ways connected (e.g. Mühlum 1989; Merten 142
  • 11. 1998). Togetherness of social pedagogy and social care is emphasized also in other countries, for example in Sweden (e.g. Gustavsson 1998; Blomdahl Frej 1998). We can discuss on the relation of social pedagogy to other disci- plines by analysing the relation of social pedagogy to social work. Social pedagogy as a discipline parallel to other social sciences can be defined as a part of the social scientific knowledge basis of social work. In the family of social sciences such branches as sociology and social psychology give information about social phenomena, and social philosophy from its part represents the meta level of knowledge by dealing with ethical principles and values in societal life. Social pedagogy and social policy can be defined as practical sciences or action sciences. They do not just describe, interpret and explain social phenomena but ask how to act. A practical science is inevitably connected to the concepts and questions of philosophical anthropology. It can but will not avoid discussion about values and ethical principles of action. In social pedagogy as well as in social policy analysis of both goals and empiric preconditions of social action play an important role. These two practical social sciences combine meta level analysis and con- cepts of social philosophy with the knowledge got from the empiric phenomena level analysis. Thus, social pedagogy and social policy create a theoretical frame for all the professional actions dealing with the same questions as these sciences deal with. According to Herman Nohl, pedagogics and politics are like inhaling and exhaling: they complete each other. As politics aim at promoting welfare by influencing on legislation, structures and institutions of society, pedagogics aim at promoting welfare by developing the society from inside, by influencing people and culture. Both strategies — political and pedagogical — are needed for development of well-being and welfare. This was clear already in ancient Greece when the great philosophers discussed on ethi- cal, political and pedagogical themes as a whole. In the time of Enlightenment in the 18th century, both political and pedagogi- cal strategies were developed for the promoting of democracy and social reforms. 143
  • 12. The origin of social pedagogical thinking and action stays in the tradition of this understanding. It proclaims the changeability of social reality. Development of social pedagogy as a discipline is also rooted on this basis. Our orientation in social work as well as in other caring professions can be one-sided. This is to say that our concept of man and society can be narrow. As Paulo Freire put it: a political revolution without humanisation produced by educational activities leads to an inhuman society. We also acknowledge that education alone is insufficient without political activities. This means that both social policy and social pedagogy must be taught and studied—together with other social sciences — in stud- ies of social work. But social policy and social pedagogy are not only disciplines for social work. These disciplines are helpful also for other professions like working with people in social and moral crisis or those threatened by them. This means that not only social workers but also other professionals—for example teachers, youth workers, nurses, psychologists and medical doctors — can study social pedagogy as a part of their training. It does not exclude the opportunity to have in society a professional group of ‘social’ pro- fessions called social pedagogues. (Figure 1) Social ethics “SOCIAL” PROFESSIONS Social Teacher’ work Social policy Youth work etc. pedagogy Social Social work economy Social Social Sociology psychology administration Social anthropology Figure 1. The position of social pedagogy in the knowledge basis of different profes- sions (see Hämäläinen 1999, 96). 144
  • 13. Although social pedagogy is related to moral philosophy, ethics, and social theory, it takes as its subject matter, information and theories which also concern general pedagogy (e.g. Winkler 1988; Madsen 1993; Gustavsson 1998). Social pedagogy has partly a common foundation with social philosophy, sociology, social psy- chology, social policy and other social sciences. The common inter- ests in research are not only methodological but also substantive. Social pedagogy brings to social sciences a questioning of its own, i.e. the pedagogical questioning. As a science and as a field of study social pedagogy is placed between pedagogical and social sciences. In a three-dimensional figure it would be possible to present a more detailed description about the relations of different social sciences. For example, not only do sociology and social psychol- ogy traditionally have a lot in common with the content of social philosophy but they also deal with empiric research in order to understand social phenomena. Social policy and social pedagogy as practical sciences combine necessarily the questions of ‘is’ and ’ought to be’ by dealing with goals and means of action. Thus they bring together the discussion of social ethics concerning social values and ethical principles and knowledge of social reality based on empiric analysis. Development of social pedagogy as a science It has become fundamentally difficult to define the position of social pedagogy as a scientific system, because there are various interpretations of social pedagogy. In the debates, there has been in the course of time, different contradictory conceptions about the characteristics of social pedagogical thought and action, the task of social pedagogy as a functional system and its goal and contents as a science and a branch of study. Based on the background of these interpretations, we gather that there are different social and theoretical ways of thinking, political interests and ideologies. Social pedagogical thought and actions develop under conflicting pressure arising from different expectations and interests, and this has enor- mous effects on how the position of social pedagogy is perceived and defined. 145
  • 14. The development of social pedagogy as an operative system, requires sufficient research to progress as a science. The fundamen- tal theory should be distinctly clear in order to create institutional requirements for research. The clarity of fundamental theory means, to define systematically, the framing of the social pedagogical ques- tion, the target of research and the ways to formulate knowledge. The development of social pedagogy started from the efforts to define theoretically, pedagogical activity, the aims of which were to prevent and alleviate problems. The formulation of social pedagogi- cal knowledge and theory has from the very beginning faced tension between theory and practice, thought and action, ideals and reality. There have been a lot of different interpretations concerning social pedagogy, its starting points and tasks, both as a science and as a field of education or even as a profession. The debates have been susceptible to the different conceptions of humans, society, science, ideas, and ideologies, swaying in society. Comprehension of the concept of what social pedagogy really is, has remained conflicting and debatable. From the theoretical viewpoint of social pedagogy, the most essential pedagogical activity is the kind that prevents and allevi- ates problems. However, social pedagogy is not a methodical study with pedagogical directives. It is rather a way of thinking, a way of orienting social problems and helping people, who live under the pressure of these problems. It examines matters from the point of view of a human’s personality and biography, right from childhood to adulthood. The important question is how we can help people who are living in a massive and soulless society, under difficult and demanding conditions, and guide them to maintain a positive attitude towards life and preserve their dignity and purpose, and how learning and growing processes can be promoted from the viewpoint of their social capability to function and their capacity to cope with life. In the initial phases of social pedagogical research i.e., at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, emphasis was laid on the rational and philosophic-anthropological formulation of knowledge. Not until the 1960’s, did the Germans, customarily conduct empiric research and gain footing in the field 146
  • 15. of social pedagogy. It also became a branch of study and education and began to have a closer approach to social science (e.g. Dewe & Otto 1996, 117 – 129; Thiersch 1992, 22). There was talk about a realistic and emancipated change in social pedagogical thought, which was oriented towards studying realistic circumstances in everyday life, and which also emphasized on social emancipation in social pedagogical discussions and the formation of theory and action (see Dießenbacher & Müller 1987, 1253 – 1254; Thiersch & Rauschenbach 1987, 998– 1000). A methodical developing of empiric social pedagogical research and also a developing of its own social, scientific and cultural research, is still continuing in Germany (see Rauschenbach & Thole 1998). Special attention is paid to research methods of qual- ity, the possibilities of case studies and to biographical researches that may lead to produce relevant research information (see Jakob & Wensierski, 1997). Alongside empiric formulation of knowledge, continuous discussions are held about the origin of social pedagogi- cal thought and action, and how it categorizes the basic concepts of theoretical social pedagogy. Social pedagogy is a practical and functional science which exam- ines practical functions and exists because of them. Social pedagogy is a practical science that aims at: • pedagogical functions, the purposes of which are to prevent and alleviate social exclusion and other deprivations • those processes of the growth of man, from which the integra- tion into society, social subjectivity, social participation, and coping with life as a member of society, take shape • those specific problems humans have with sharing, coping, life management, integrating into systems and communities that maintain the standard of living. Social pedagogy cannot be defined as a science on the grounds of practicality, although social pedagogy does have a practical origin. The problems connected with practical professionalism have a sig- nificant effect on the framing of the question on the grounds of practicality. Social pedagogy is a science to the extent in which it 147
  • 16. carries out the idea of science, by purposefully and systematically pursuing information and organizing it entirely (see Niiniluoto 1980, 13–16). Any research usually has two kinds of functions: empiric ones such as observations and experiments and rational ones such as logi- cal explanations and definition of concepts (see Eskola 1973, 10). It can simply be said that scientific research is oriented primarily to developing a theory or solving practical problems. Social pedagogy is basically a practical science originating from the solving of practical questions. This does not mean that basic theoretical research is unnecessary or secondary. Applied research solves practical questions and then easily moves on to collect pieces of information without basic research that constructs theory and absorbs the basic concepts of the field of science. To avoid this kind of fragmentation, social pedagogy needs a theory that is constructed by basic research, in which practical and applied research can be merged together to a find a common denominator. Social pedagogy as a science does not exactly have its own research techniques, but where as gathering information is con- cerned, it uses the same methods as all other social sciences. By referring to the functional characteristic nature of social pedagogy, you will see that the ideas attached to it have an action-research approach that is very important (see Schmidt 1981, 275 – 296). A functional scientific starting point marks the valuable and goal oriented questions that are significant in the formation of social pedagogical information. Together with gathering relevant empiric information for social pedagogical action, it is necessary to define the valuable origins and goals of these functions and also the ethical viewpoints. This links social pedagogical research and the formation of theory to philosophical anthropology and social ethics. It is a merging of empiric information and goal oriented information. A scientific theory is based on concepts and a science is devel- oped through concepts. Each branch of science has its own basic concepts. As a result, fundamental scientific questions take shape and theory is based on it. The fundamental questions of social pedagogical theory applies to a human’s capacity and skills to func- tion, cope, build a social identity, integrate into the society, share, 148
  • 17. and participate as a member of society especially when threatened for one reason or the other. These threats may be various kind of crises in life: intoxication and mental health problems, exclusion from education, work, hobbies, social relations, social participa- tion, unstable upbringing in childhood and youth, crimes and other deviant behaviour and difficulties to overcome the requirements of everyday life. But before anything, the development of social pedagogy as a science requires a definition of the basis of its theory, and a debate on its nature and origin as a science. Only by means of research, can the science develop and find its place in the scientific com- munity. It is important to develop social pedagogy as a science, in relation to other sciences and to observe how it will take its place as an institution in the scientific community, although, the boundaries of sciences, at present, are more flexible and to some, even unnecessary. The position of social pedagogy, institutionally, and its scientific theory and origin determines the lines of discus- sion and vice versa. Social pedagogical theory and practice Social pedagogical work does not limit itself to problem solving, only. Its professional function is also to maintain well-being and the standard of living. From this function, social pedagogical work acquires its strongly preventive meaning and contents. The social pedagogical functional system can be built in the long run, but only by developing it as a science. The development of social pedagogical practice depends on whether the question is about a specific social pedagogical occupation or about a specific social pedagogical pattern of thought and the way to work in vari- ous occupations based on social pedagogy. It also depends on how social pedagogy will develop as a science and what kind of precon- ditions will be presented to successfully conduct social pedagogical research. Just to promote practice, social pedagogy needs to develop as a science. As a functional system of society, social pedagogy is heteromor- phic like social policy. It reflects the state and characteristics of each 149
  • 18. society and can have quite many different forms of manifestations in different societies and different eras. However, the social peda- gogical functional practices are committed to time and place and the formation of theory and research are linked to them, and are also sensitive to ideologies and political interests in society. Hence, social pedagogy can be developed as a system of education with efforts to define its contents and field, its fundamental basic ques- tions and basic concepts and its characteristic way to analyse reality by raising questions providing information and creating theory. Social pedagogy deals with theory and practice of social work and other ’social’ professions. As a discipline it integrates the elements of science, education and work (see Figure 2). Social pedagogy as a system of science social pedagogy as an academic discipline Social pedagogy as Social pedagogy as a system of education a system of work Figure 2. Social pedagogy as a scientific, educational and work system It is important both theoretically and practically that social peda- gogical discussion be linked with social analysis and relevant infor- mation about prevailing conditions, and also with understanding what goes on in society (Winkler 1995, 183). For example, the current post-modern education, information and media society imposes special challenges on social pedagogical research. The problems of integration and mechanism of exclusion are complex and are concerned with the population at large. We are living in a society, where people have high professional skills, and it demands from its members, higher and higher cognitive efficiency, risk- taking, willingness to change and tolerance towards instability. The relation between social pedagogical theory and practice, and the self-conception of social pedagogy, in general, can be defined 150
  • 19. from the different origins of scientific theory and quest for knowl- edge. The most important question is, to what extent does theory set its norms and standards and to what extent does it only try to understand the practical functions — or if I state the postulate of hermeneutic traditions a little more clearly — to what extent does it try to deepen in practice, the functional capacity to comprehend those who make their actions become theoretically comprehensive. In a manner of speaking, it is also a question which one is primary, theory or practice, in spite of the fact that we speak of them as a ’whole’. On the basis of practice, it is important to note the setting of goals, definition of work forms and target groups, how action is theoretically captured, what concepts are used in it and how the relation of theory to practice is comprehended. References Blomdahl Frej, G. (1998) Social omsorg och socialpedagogik. Ett social-human- istiskt perspektiv. In G. Blomdahl Frej & B. Eriksson (red.) Social omsorg och socialpedagogik. Filosofi – teori – praktik. Lund: Studentlitteratur, pp. 18–33. Böhnisch, L. (1997) Sozialpädagogik der Lebensalter: eine Einführung. Weinheim und München: Juventa. Dewe, B. & Otto, H.-U. (1996) Zugänge zur Sozialpädagogik. Reflexive Wissen- schaftstheorie und kognitive Identität. Weinheim und München: Juventa Verlag. Dießenbacher, H. & Müller, A. (1987) Wissenschaftstheorie und Sozialpädagogik. In Hanns Eyferth & Hans-Uwe Otto & Hans Thiersch (Hrsg.) Handbuch zur Sozialarbeit/Sozialpädagogik. Eine systematische Darstellung für Wis- senschaft, Studium und Praxis. Neuwied und Darmstadt: Luchterhand, pp. 1251– 1262. Eriksson, L. & Markström, A.-M. (2000) Den svårfångade socialpedagogiken. Lund: Studentlitteratur. Eskola, A. (1973) Sosiologian tutkimusmenetelmät I. 4. uud. p. Porvoo: WSOY. Gustavsson, A. (1998) Aktuell socialpedagogisk forskning. In Anders Gustavsson & Anders Möller (red.) Omsorgsvetenskaper. Perspektiv, forskning, praktik. Lund: Studentlitteratur, pp. 21– 25. Hämäläinen, J. (1989) Social Pedagogy as a Meta-Theory of Social Work. Educa- tion. International Social Work 32 (April) pp. 117– 128. 151
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