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Cultural factors which obstruct or facilitate casework in Pakistan. Malik, Mohammed Akram

Abstract

Culture, as one of the powerful determinants of human behaviour and motivation, is attracting an increased attention of social work practitioners and educators everywhere; the recent trend in social work literature shows. Two questions which seem to be of vital interest to the protagonists of modern social work, are: 1) How far the cultural conditions of a country permit the growth, development and promotion of social work profession? Social work, as an offspring of democracy, needs democratically governed environments to flourish and fructify. A culture unfamiliar with the concepts of equality, liberty and fraternity, can scarcely be conducive to the attainment of its objectives. Rigid, totalitarian and undemocratic societies, intolerant of the fact of difference and enemies of the freedom of expression, are, inherently and basically; inagreeable and unsuitable to its genius and temper. ii) How to facilitate incorporation and integration of modern social work profession with the dominant culture of the people (whose cause it aspires to serve) so as to, in consonance with basic principles, make it acceptable and agreeable to them without any superimposition? Both these questions necessitate the better understanding of the various cultures with a view to identify those factors which in any way help or hinder the practice of social work. In this thesis the writer has attempted to highlight some of the cultural factors which, in the light of his own knowledge, experience, understanding and observation, tend to (a) obstruct, or (b) facilitate his casework practice in his own country - Pakistan. To supplement and substantiate his observations, the methodology used by the writer includes some representative and pertinent case material gathered from the field of casework practice in Pakistan, in the capacity of, first as a student, Department of Social Work, Punjab University, and later as a member of faculty, in the same Department to supervise post-graduate students placed in various field work settings. The study has been confined to the analysis and interpretation of the cases drawn from the casework field with a view to avoid making thesis unmanageable and bulky. Besides, it is in the field of casework most especially that the influence of culture makes itself most pronouncedly felt, though its role in the whole field of social work cannot be minimized. To facilitate a better understanding of the Pakistani culture a separate chapter has been added, highlighting especially the 'Ideal Culture' of Pakistan which stems from the basic teachings of Islam - the source of inspiration and guidance for the people. In fact without such understanding the whole relationship of culture and social work in Pakistan would be unintelligible, because, despite the fact that the 'real' culture by which the people live, has hardly much to do with Islam, emotionally speaking, Islam goes a long way to determine the destinies and way of life. This study has brought a number of analytical features to light. 1) Most of the obstruction comes from the culture of sub-groups, dogmatic interpretation of Islam, strict adherence to custom and conventions, the conflict between the 'ideal' and the 'real' cultures of the people, and absence of any common frame of reference, etc. 2) The factors facilitating are those which stem from the flexible interpretation of Islam which lends support to philanthropic and humanitarian activities, emphasizes the values of equality, liberty and fraternity, and stresses the dignity and worth of man -providing, thus, an excellent similarity to the basic concepts and values of social work. The findings point to the need for the discretionary and flexible application of social work techniques and principles, inviting at times, an exploration of some new ways and means, fitted to the culture, apart from those commonly used by the social workers.

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