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Science and Profession: Social Work Essay

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Social work wasn't always considered 'social work' as we know it now, in regards to being a science and a profession. Before the 19th century, even before the start of charities that tried to alleviate the conditions of the poor, those in poverty were looked after (taken care of) by those doing it out of piety. It started with what some would consider mission work, trying to combat (but not necessarily change/find the cause of poverty) such things as prostitution, poverty, disease, etc by giving/donating money, food and other things; all of which came with the increase in the population of the country, the rise of the cities. The privileged, those at the top, helped the poor but also made assumptions about the poor and poverty (those who were poor needed help, they were not able to help themselves because of moral issues, which created these situations for them); the poor were in poverty because they were immoral and were flawed. Strategies and approaches to dealing with/handling the issue of poverty were many; some saw poverty as a personal problem (character/moral flaw), well others as it as a need to order and instruct the poor (removing them from poor neighborhoods and surroundings, etc). The idea of working with those in poverty, alongside with them wouldn't come in the picture until much later. (Boyer, 1978; Ehrenreich, 1985).
As cities grew, from the increase of immigrants and workers seeking jobs, the elites of society (those with wealth and power) became concerned with the conditions that were developing within
Settlement House Movement, as well as other charity movements, help bring serving the poor from secular to more private hands; philanthropists began to start charities to help the poor as well. Many of the work do...


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...ar on the poor themselves (continue to blame them for their predicament of being in poverty).
The conflicts found in the area of social work, can be seen as conflicts between social work and social policy (carrying out policy, being a foot soldier versus impacting policy, being an officer) as well as conflicts in regards to whether social work was a singular profession or made up of several (case work versus group work versus reform work). The idea of working alongside the poor, community action, to help implement and design programs is an issue that was faced during the War on Poverty years; as social workers were reluctant (didn't know how to) involve their clients, as they were the clients that needed help because they didn't know how to use the resources to help themselves, and that is why the social workers were there in the first place (Ehrenreich, 1985).





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