- Volume 57 Issue 4
Efforts to identify the public's perception of social welfare as an academic discipline have never been conducted in Korea since the establishment of social welfare department in 1947 at Ewha Womans University. Such efforts are very meaningful in identifying directions and tasks to strengthen Korean social welfare as well as in clarifying and promoting our understanding concerning status of the academic discipline. This study attempts to explore and describe the degree of the public's perception in Korea with analyzing data surveyed in 2004 by our interdisciplinary research team. This study develops and uses a questionnaire having a Likert scale format that is composed of 8 points and measures the public's perception in the following dimensions: (1) personal interests on academic discipline; (2) contribution of academic discipline; (3) prospect of academic discipline; (4) importance of academic discipline; (5) expertise of academic discipline; and (6) personal knowledge on academic discipline. To avoid social desirability and promote objectivity with comparative measurement, this study selects ten representative academic disciplines as follows: medicine; physics; biology; social welfare; economics; psychology; sociology; political science; library science; and communication & journalism. This study attempts to identify (1) the degree of the public's perception on ten academic disciplines; (2) the position of social welfare by comparing it with each academic discipline and by comparing mean of social welfare with overall mean of six social science disciplines in the six dimensions; (3) the differences in the public's perceptions of social welfare on six dimensions by the respondents' status factor(high school students, college and graduate students, and citizens) and gender factor by using MANCOVA, and (4) the differences in the public's perceptions of social welfare on six dimensions by major factor(social welfare, social science majors, and natural science majors) and gender factor of college and graduate school students by using MANCOVA. The results of data analysis are as follows: (1) while the 3,319 respondents gave relatively high rating on natural sciences in the dimensions of contribution and expertise, they did the same on social sciences in the dimensions of personal interests and personal knowledge; (2) in overall comparisons, while the 3,319 respondents gave relatively high rating on social welfare in the dimensions of contribution, prospect and importance, they gave the lowest rating on the expertise of social welfare; (3) in the comparisons with social science disciplines, while the 3,319 respondents gave relatively high rating on social welfare in the dimensions of contribution, prospect and importance, they gave the lowest rating on the expertise of social welfare; (4) when analyzing all the respondents, there were differences in the vector of personal interests, contribution, prospect, importance, expertise, and personal knowledge by status factor, gender factor, and interaction effect factor; and (5) when analyzing only the respondents in college and graduate schools, there were differences in the vector of personal interests, contribution, prospect, importance, expertise, and personal knowledge by only major factor and gender factor. The results provide empirical backgrounds for discussing current image, status and major characteristics of social welfare as a discipline in Korea. Indeed, this study provides new meaningful and thoughtful guide for further investigation on the topic. In addition, contributing to clarifying and broadening our understandings about the public's perception on social welfare in Korea, this study discusses the tasks for dealing with expertise issue that is the most vulnerable issue of Korean social welfare discipline and research directions to strengthen and promote social welfare discipline in Korea.
social welfare;public's perception;identity of social welfare;expertise of social welfare