In the following assignment, I will briefly define the 'Enlightenment' and the specific circumstances when it emerged. I will identify and discuss, if the 'Enlightenment' has core values and I will give reasons to backup my decisions. Then there will be a brief discussion about the current features of Social Work organisation and anti-discriminatory practice in relation to women. I will explain if the current feature of Social Work Practice demonstrates any link with the 'Enlightenment' values.
Due to word limitation, it is difficult to discuss and analyse all of the 'Enlightenment' values. I will focus on two of the values: 'tolerance and freedom' to discuss and analyse them with the conjunction of the Social Work Practice.
Benson et al (cited in Spybey, T. 1997) explains that "The 'Enlightenment' is a term used to describe those thinkers of the eighteenth century who established the basis of looking at the society in a scientific way". The' Enlightenment' movements started in 16th and 17th century. Thus "It's roots go much farther back in western history and it continued to develop long after the 18th century, Hollinger (1994) calls it "a programme for improving human life was worked out". It took place in 18th century but mainly in the second half of the18th century, French educated men and women called themselves 'Philosophes' who became known as the 'Enlightenment'.
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According to Porter (1990 cited in Hall et al 1992: 24) "The Enlightenment was the era which saw the emergence of a secular intelligentsia large enough and powerful enough for the first time to challenge the clergy. The key domain in which 'Enlightenment' intellectuals involved in supporting existing, man and society, which was sustained by the church authority and it's monopoly over the information media of the time".
The 'Enlightenment' challenged the traditional and religious views and ideas. The society, the world, human-beings and nature, all were seen in the light of the traditional and religious views which were dominated by Christianity. Hamilton (1997 cited in Handouts, 2003) and Hall et al (1992: 7) explains that "From around 1760, "A perspective summed up in Voltaire's phrase 'ï¿½crasez l'infame': means 'crush the infamous thing' and ... it became a nutritious catchphrase". It opposed the Catholic Church and religious beliefs for example Script of Bible, miracles associated with Jesus and other prophets, God and angel's existence, the church's authority and people's beliefs were criticized, which were based on the religion and tradition.
Hall et al (1992: 20) expresses that "The 'Enlightenment is the foundation of 'Modernity' and 'Modern Social Science'. It changed the way of thinking by comprehending it as systematic, scientific and practical". Its emergence gave 'Philosophes' a wider scoops to explore beyond their religious and traditional beliefs. It created an atmosphere for 'Philosophes' to believe in the "pre-eminence of empirical, materialist knowledge: the model in this respect furnished by science, an enthusiasm for technological and medical progress and a desire for legal and constitutional reform" (Johnson, I. Handouts: 2003). Basically, the 'Enlightenment laid a foundation for people to think liberally and have some sense of equality in the society.
In my view, the above significant factors were the bases of the 'Enlightenment's values, which let the 'Enlightenment' develop and progress steadily. Because it was the first time when it was made possible for people to explore and express their personal beliefs and view and test the validity of their thoughts, through scientific, systematic ways and without being bounded by religious and traditional restrictions. The 'Enlightenment' values brought in changes and development in the society and in the people's views and thoughts. It set the milestone for our new modern world that we live in today.
It also opened up the opportunities for 'Philosophes' to work, explore and experiment in a wider context and relay their ideas and views with some freedom. It abolished the traditional and superstitious thoughts and prejudices. It created opportunities for legal and religious reformation to take place. I think that all the changes and development have only taken place because the 'Enlightenment' values were in existence and were strong enough to challenge the strongest authority; the churches of that time. As churches and its authorities have had a great influence and power over people, economy, politics, law, social, every day life even the ruler/s of that time.
Hall et al (1992: 21-22) had defined the core values of the 'Enlightenment' which are summarised as the following:
* Reason (nationality): systemized acquaintances (pragmatic or experimented).
* Empiricism: human-beings; views and awareness that being gained through their perceptions and judgements.
* Science: based on scientific methods and theories and can be tested systematically and scientifically.
* Universalism: motives and science can be functional in all and every situation; if the principal were the same.
* Progress: the concept of improvement in the natural and social conditions of human beings.
* Individualism: a society is based on the thoughts and beliefs of its members and each member id origin of all "knowledge and action and his reasons can not be subjective to a higher authority.
* Toleration: the notion of that all human-beings are essentially the same, despite their religious or moral convictions and that the beliefs of other races and civilization not inherently inferior to those of European Christianity.
* Freedom: an opposition to feudal and traditional constraints or on believes: trades, communication, social interaction, sexuality, and ownership of property (although as we shall see the extension of freedom to women and the lower-classes was problematic for Philosophies)" (Hall et al. 1992: 22-23).
* Uniformity of human nature: all the humankinds are the same all around the world.
* Secularism: non-religious and non-traditional authorities and an opposition to the traditional religious authority and myths.
Now, I will discuss the 'Enlightenment's values: 'toleration' and 'freedom' in the correlation with the current Social Work practice especially in relation to anti-discriminatory practice regarding to women, to establish if the Enlightenment's values are linked or have influenced Social Work practice.
I have experienced through my work experience with different communities that generally, women are treated unfairly and unequally in the society at most levels. Women have less freedom and rights than men. Globally, the women of 21th century are still struggling to gain an equal place as men in the society.
Guru (2003: class-notes) stresses that "From birth to death women have to struggle in their lives to access their rights e.g welfare, personal, social, political, human, cultural, traditional, religious, labourer, employment".
The Social Work emphasises strongly on anti-oppressive and anti-discriminatory practice. "During the late 1980s social work education became increasingly aware of the impact of oppression and discrimination on clients and communities. There was a growing and recognition of relative neglect of such issues in traditional approaches to social work in 1989, the Central Council for Education and Training in Social (CCETSW) laid down the regulations and requirements for the students" of Social work to practice in anti- discriminatory ways. ...CCETSW also seek to ensure that students are prepared to combat other forms of discrimination based on age, gender, sexual orientation, class, disability, culture or creed" (CCETSW 1989: 10 cited in Thompson, N. 1997: 1).
The change in the CCETSW's regulation indicates that the discrimination still exists especially against certain groups and women are one of them and there is a need to combat discrimination. Moreover, it also states that it was recognised that the discrimination was linked with 'traditional approaches'. It may mean that the 'traditional views' still exists in our today's society, which the 'Enlightenment' wanted to get rid of, to give people 'freedom' and to promote equality for all individuals without their differences they had through 'toleration'. Obviously, the "Enlightenment certainly propagated concept of equality (limited), democracy and emancipation ...." (Hall et al.1992: 33).
But when it comes to women then it seems like that the women were almost invisible in the 'Enlightenment'. Hall et al (1992: 60) expressed that "There was no Enlightenment for women. However they (Enlightenment) challenged the champion the rights of commons, the rights of Citizens, slaves, Jews, Indians and children but not those of women".
Under the 'Enlightenment's values of 'toleration and freedom': "all the human-beings are essentially the same" but it was not applied to women. Porter (2001: 69) explains that "The 'Enlightenment' helped to free a man from his past....by declaring that "all human-beings are equal despite their race, religion, beliefs, civilization and moral convictions... and Lock (1992 referred in Hall et al. 1992: 66) adds in that according to the 'Enlightenment', "Every man has an equal right 'to his natural freedom". Similar, the 'Code of Practice for Social Care Worker (CPSCW) requires that the social care workers must "promote equal opportunities for service users and... respecting diversity and different cultures and values" (GSCC, 2002: 1.5-1.6).
Moreover, the Social work values emphasises that the social workers should "identifies and question their own values and prejudices, and their implication of practice;... and they should "Respect and value uniqueness and adversity....and identify (discrimination), analyse and take action to counter discrimination, racism, disadvantage, inequality and injustice using strategies appropriate to role and context" (CCETSW, paper 30 referred in UB. 2002: 6).
Social work is not focusing on certain and specific groups or people where as the 'Enlightenment' was concerned with the specific group/s of the society. The 'freedom' and 'toleration' was for certain maters and specific groups but there were n laid rules or principals for 'Philosophes' to follow and the 'Philosophes' themselves were a small group of people. Therefore, the social work value gave people a direct power to clients by letting them choosing and decide for themselves and social worker are advised to "promote opportunities for people to use their own strengths to make decisions for themselves (CCETSW, paper 30 cited in UB. 2002: 4). In other words, social work has widened the concept of 'freedom' and 'toleration' by being considerate for all members of the community, which is now-a-days known as 'anti-discrimination', freedom of choice' and 'equality'.
It demonstrates that the 'Enlightenment' have given the idea and Social work made it possible for people by assisting clients and by practicing it physically. That does not mean that the social work have followed the 'Enlightenment' concept and values unswervingly. But initially, the idea was there to follow and it may be possible that the 'feminist' movements got the idea from the 'Enlightenment' and modified it according to the current needs. Thompson (1997: 8) described that the "influence of feminism in sociology was beginning to extend to social policy in general and social work in particular".
Lagan et al (1992: 112-120) agreed with this statement by accentuating that the feminism had great influence on social work theories. Social work had contributed to help women to achieve political, economical, educational, legal and social rights. For example, Beloff (1976 referred in Thompson, N. 1997: 5) argues that the "legislation changes were part of women liberal programme of reform e.g. rights for divorce, Equal Pay Act 1970 , Sex Discrimination Act 1975". The social work worked itself and worked with 'feminist and liberal movements' to fight for 'women's rights'. Although, the social work has adopted the ideas from 'feminists' or other liberal movements but the social work can be distinguished from other movements. Initially, it worked with and for all groups and classes. Second, it developed rapidly and extensively in many areas of social issues such as children, disabled people, aged, ethnic minorities, poor and others.
The women have developed and have gained rights with the help of social work. Social work has made and is making a useful contribution for women rights and for their development. Lagan et al (1992: 40) emphasis that the "Social work is mainly done by the Female Social workers and with the Female clients.... As being women, Social workers shared the common understanding and experiences, as very much like their clients". That made the social work to approach most women in the society at all levels and to help eliminate women's social problems and raise issues which needed to be address to combat oppression and discrimination.
We see the Western Women as 'Modern', independent, intellectual, and strong. But it can be argued that the women are still at disadvantage in the society. Many national studies and statistics show that "Overall, women are disadvantaged in health, education, economy, politics, and employment and through out the system" (Carter, A. 1988: 77-112). However, we can not deny the fact that women have been victimized by the system and the society. Despite the social work practice and attempts for women's rights, "there are still gaps and work needs to be done in accordance to give women equal rights" (Surrinder, G.2003). It is true that media has blamed social work practice in the past and social workers are seen as government's representatives and according to Murphy (2003: 7) the Social workers are not very much liked by the general public.
There are also issues regarding to social worker's practice e.g. practicing in 'traditional' way due to personal prejudices, which has oppressed the clients and has stigmatized the social work itself. Thompson (1997: 11) emphasise that the "...social work practice which does not take account of oppression and discrimination can not be seen as 'good practice....". The 'bad practice' is portrayed through the media but the good practice is not awarded and neither praised by media. The social work constantly reviews the policies to encounter prejudices and emphasises high on anti-discriminatory practice.
In conclusion, I agree with Hall et al (1992: 266) that the "Enlightenment' played a part in ...abolition of prejudice and superstition...and has given freedom to man". I would say that where the 'Enlightenment' movements have played a vital role in the modern thinking and have given the initiative idea of the 'Toleration and freedom', which now has taken a new shape of 'equality and anti-discrimination' within a broader context. But at same time, the 'Enlightenment' has indirectly contributed against women. Maybe it was due to 'unintended consequences' (Johnson, I. 2003: 2), which were not identified, measured and recognised by the 'Enlightenment' or may be 'Enlightenment did not want to recognise it. As 'Enlightenment' was a men dominated movement.
It may have contributed to prejudice and discriminate women by not including and involving them at the very early stage of the 'Enlightenment' movements. And that could be the cause that women's voice for their rights was an echo in the vacuum and was not heard till lately. Therefore, social work has worked extensively for women's rights but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
My suggestion is that the social work should identify oppression and discrimination and combat it at personal levels first and then at institutional levels. This action should not only be taken by the professionals but all the individuals should get involved in it. Otherwise, just like the 'Enlightenment': left the women behind, the individuals will be imperceptible and power will shift to the professionals who will take over. If it will happen then it may take us back to the early 'Enlightenment' age, where only the 'Enlightenment' educated, had the power and voice.
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