Author: Pee Abigail, National University of Singapore
Partnering with Beyond Social Services, Sengkang FSC and Serangoon Moral FSC, the study employed semi-structured interviews of beneficiaries and social workers to understand how the discourse of self-reliance occurs in the Singapore social service sector.
Findings from this research highlighted that self-reliance was constructed as an outcome, process, and frame of mind. Achieving self-reliance was discoursed as an individual, community and systemic effort, including discursive constructions such as employment and skills-upgrading, moral support from the community, and understanding systemic barriers.
The findings justified the need for the reconsideration of interventions towards financial assistance beneficiaries such as the use of asset-building to cope with economic and social shifts, provision of higher moral support, and higher emphasis on clinical social work to drive systemic changes. Further implications also include challenging the dominant discourse of self-reliance, and the need for social workers to practise reflexivity.