Debates around the issues of knowledge of, and for, social work and other social justice–oriented professions are not uncommon. More prevalent are the discussions around the ways by which social work knowledge is obtained. In recent years, social work scholars have drawn on the epistemology of pragmatism to present a case for its value in the creation of knowledge for social work and other social justice–oriented professions. The primary focus of this essay is on providing a critical review and synthesis of the literature regarding pragmatism as a research paradigm. In this essay, we analyze the major philosophical underpinnings and methodological challenges associated with pragmatism, synthesize the works of scholars who have contributed to the understanding of pragmatism as a research paradigm, articulate our thoughts about how pragmatism fits within social work research, and illustrate how it is linked to the pursuit of social justice. This article brings together a variety of perspectives to argue that pragmatism has the potential to closely engage and empower marginalized and oppressed communities and provide hard evidence for the macro level discourse.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited