by PETER BALDOCK Community and Ideology: An Essay in Applied Social Philosophy by Raymond Plant (Routledge and Kcgan Paul £2.80) A few years ago Raymond Plant published a short book, Social and Moral Theory in Casework which made a permanently important contribution to social work by subjecting some of its basic concepts to incisive criticism.
His latest book is an attempt to do the same for community work, and sadly — for such a critique is needed — I think it is a failure.
The problem is this. Six or seven years ago a concept of "community" and the problem of how to reconcile this with traditional social work values concerning respect for the individual would have been crucial to the handful of professional community workers we then had.
But the recent phenomenal growth of the community work semi-profession has seen both reassessments of the role of community workers in which the concept of "community" itself has been relegated in importance, and rejection of any kind of identity with the social work profession.
Plant's book is an excellent essay on the concept of "community," although I regret that he seems ignorant of the crucial articles by Johann (in The Way 1970) and Clark (in Sociological Review 1973).
I thoroughly recommend it to any priest or layman who has ever said that the Church is a community or is about community. But as a contribution to the discussion of values in professional community work, it is so out-dated as to be almost wholly irrelevant.