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Article

Historiography  

Leslie Leighninger

This entry discusses some topics in social work and social welfare history. It covers different approaches to that history, such as an emphasis on social control functions of social welfare; a stress on the “ordinary people” involved in historical events; or particular attention to the stories of women, people of color, and other groups who have often been excluded from formal sources of power. It notes the importance of using original sources in writing history, and explains the various steps involved in researching and interpreting these sources.

Article

History and Development of School Social Work Within Professional Organizations  

Randy A. Fisher

Professional associations have been present since the birth of the visiting teacher/school social work movement in 1906. The five major associations—National Association of School Social Workers, National Association of Social Workers, the Midwest School Social Work Council, State School Social Work Associations (both individually and as a group), and the School Social Work Association of America—collectively provide vital services such as conferences and publications that form the foundation of the profession. Their decisions have shaped the history of school social work as well as maintain the current level of services to the school social work community. The practice of school social work today is based in large part on the decisions made by the professional associations in the past and now.

Article

Integrating Macro–Micro Practice  

Jason A. Ostrander, Kerry Kelly, and Patricia Carl-Stannard

Social work sets itself apart in the “helping professions” in recognizing the significance of its students and practitioners engaging with the theoretical knowledge and practice experiences sufficient for fluency across macro to micro settings. This practice integration assures comprehensive understanding of person-in-environment, from casework to complex systems work, and is raised to an ethical standard in the National Association of Social Work Code of Ethics and in the International Federation of Social Work Principles. Yet macro-oriented scholars have accused social work educators and professionals of abandoning their obligation to social justice and policy participation and of focusing their energy instead on micro practice. This literature is helpful in addressing how integrated practice can be achieved and informs the development of social workers who solidly embrace a commitment to macro knowledge and participation.

Article

Social Work Profession  

June Gary Hopps and Tony B. Lowe

The social work profession addressed a panoply of social problems that grew larger in an ever-expanding geopolitical environment, where social equity or justice was often a remedial value. Social welfare institutions and programs, initially private and later both public and private, filled the societal void, bringing social care to the disadvantaged. Lay caregivers formed the foundation for a nascent, but now over 100-year-old, profession. Growth was sustained for over 50 years from the 1930s to 1980s, when progressive thought was challenged with conservative ideology. The challenge for contemporary social welfare and a maturing social work profession is how to navigate a changing milieu highlighted by complex human conditions in the face of real and contrived shortages, increasing class stratification, political polarization, and heightened judicial scrutiny.

Article

International Social Work: Overview  

Lynne M. Healy

This article presents an overview of definitions of international social work, relevant theories, the history of the field, and current practice roles. Definitional debates and critiques of international social work are discussed, as the term international social work has been a contested one. Scholars have defined international social work variously as a specialized area of practice, as the integrated global profession, as the exchange of people and ideas across borders, and as a more general perspective or worldview. The concluding section highlights some of the current challenges facing the field: developing relevant career tracks in international social work, strengthening representation of the profession at the global level, specifying the universal elements of social work, and continuing to clarify the concept of international social work.

Article

Social Work Practice: History and Evolution  

John G. McNutt

Social work is a profession that began its life as a call to help the poor, the destitute and the disenfranchised of a rapidly changing social order. It continues today still pursuing that quest, perhaps with some occasional deviations of direction from the original spirit. Social work practice is the primary means of achieving the profession's ends. It is impossible to overstate the centrality or the importance of social work practice to the profession of social work. Much of what is important about the history of the profession is the history of social work practice. We must consider both social work practice per se (the knowledge base, practice theories and techniques) and the context for social work practice. The context of practice includes the agency setting, the policy framework and the large social system in which practice takes place. Social work practice is created within a political, social, cultural and economic matrix that shapes the assumptions of practice, the problems that practice must deal with and the preferred outcomes of practice. Over time, the base forces that create practice and create the context for practice, change. Midgley (1981) correctly notes that practice created in one social order is often inappropriate for work in another social order. Since the social order changes over time, practice created at one point in time may no longer be appropriate in the future.

Article

Locating School Social Work in the Reconstruction Period  

Samantha Guz

The origin of school social work in the United States is frequently traced back to the early 20th century’s visiting teachers movement. To expand on previous scholarship, school social work can be situated in the 19th century by focusing on the organizing impact of Black communities on public education during Reconstruction. First, history provides context for public education during chattel slavery and for the formation of racialized politics in education. This historical context primarily focuses on how access to education was used as a tool to stratify citizenship in the South. Next, the work of Southern Black communities, the Freedmen’s Bureau, and Northern abolition organizations advanced efforts during Reconstruction, specifically the coalition-building to establish Freedmen’s Schools and the advocacy to make education a publicly funded institution. Thus, coalition-building and policy advocacy within school social work’s practice history have the potential to impact contemporary school social work practice.

Article

Social Policy: History (1900–1950)  

Iris Carlton-LaNey

This entry traces American social welfare development from the 1890s to 1950. It also includes social work's participation and response to need during two critical times in American history: the Progressive Era and the New Deal. Social reformers were instrumental in the development of social legislation, including the establishment of the Children's Bureau as well as the development of a public welfare system at the state level. America's response to human suffering left many groups, such American Indians, African Americans, and Asians, marginalized. In response, African Americans established a parallel system of private relief through organizations such as the National Urban League, unlike the other racial groups.