The Social Context of Social Work Practice

Part of the Practical social work series book series (PSWS)


The practice of social work is very difficult to define. Social work, unlike medicine for example, is not a clearly defined technical profession based on scientific knowledge directly applied in practice. Social work practice is beset by uncertainties about the nature and relevance of much information and about theories relating particularly to individual welfare and community development in a complicated society. It is misleading to refer to the social work task because social workers have many tasks, and it is not clear that social work can be identified as an activity, as teaching or nursing can. In practice social workers have a number of functions in the social services, and they deal with various problems which are experienced by different kinds of individuals and groups. Society (including many social groups from the legislature, the judiciary, and groups of citizens representing various interests) expects social workers to be both caring and controlling, but there are different views about the weighting to be given to the two in different situations.


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© British Association of Social Workers 1987

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