Applied Sociology - Standards.doc - The CACS Assuring Quality and Standards in Applied Sociology Harry Perlstadt and Joyce Miller Iutcovich This article

Applied Sociology - Standards.doc - The CACS Assuring...

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The CACS: Assuring Quality and Standards in Applied Sociology Harry Perlstadt and Joyce Miller Iutcovich This article provides the reader with important information regarding accreditation of programs in applied sociology. The Society for Applied Sociology and The Sociological Practice Association have joined together to form the Commission on Applied and Clinical Sociology (CACS). This Commission has established standards for undergraduate programs in applied sociology. Here, the story of the formation of the Commission and the development of its standards are told by two of the principal participants who pioneered our accreditation process and standards, Harry Perlstadt and Joyce Iutcovich. The Case for Accreditation Becoming a “credentialed” professional can come through a variety of avenues, typically by earning an advanced college degree, taking a qualifying examination, and then being certified by a recognized educational institution or professional association and/or licensed by the state. Such professional status requires that a body of specialized knowledge and skills serve as the foundation. Indeed, individuals applying for certification or licensure must often be graduates of “accredited” programs, since accreditation establishes high standards for programs of learning. The case for accreditation of programs in applied sociology starts with the sociology of occupations and professions (see Perlstadt, 1998 for a more extensive treatment). Freidson (1986:211) identified three career paths for professionals - practitioners, administrators, and teacher-researchers. Sociology as a discipline has primarily focused on producing teacher- researchers while more or less shunning those who work outside academia. This is a legacy of Parsons (1959) who advocated the separation of sociology as a science from sociology as practice. Reacting to the unethical use of social sciences by the Nazi regime in the 1930's (see Turner and Käsler, 1992) and the early cold war anti-Communist suspicion of social sciences (see Selznick, 1960), he argued that sociology was a scientific discipline for the advancement and transmission of knowledge. Sociology could not conduct basic research if it did contract work for businesses or government agencies (see Merton and Lerner, 1951, Starr, 1988). The relationship, then, between sociology’s disciplinary base and its work or practice is often perceived as a schism. Abbott (1988), however, argues that for most professions the link between the disciplinary base and the work place is at the heart of a profession’s jurisdiction, that is, its claim to generate new abstract knowledge in a particular field and to apply this knowledge to the benefit of clients whether individuals, groups, organizations or governments. Some jurisdictions of interest to sociological practitioners and clinicians are already claimed or dominated by social work to the extent that specific social work rather than - 1 -
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equivalent sociological training is required to work for social service agencies. More recently
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