Skip to main content

The Professional Basis of Social Work–1915

In a 1915 presentation, Porter Lee said: Whichever of these conceptions (of social work) command the greatest measure of support from those who call themselves social workers, the proponents of all of them agree in speaking of social work as a profession. If it is or is to be a profession, has it definite characteristics which will admit all those who claim the name, or which will automatically exclude some? The announcements of this conference describe this as the greatest gathering of social workers on the continent. Our membership includes public relief officials, institution officers, play leaders, parish workers, charity organization secretaries, probation officers, placing out agents, nurses, settlement workers, medical social service workers, prison heads, friendly visitors, truant officers, matrons, teachers of special groups, members of boards of directors, tenement inspectors, public welfare directors, social investigators, executives of agencies for social legislation, industrial betterment leaders, those who work with immigrants, factory inspectors and-to avoid omitting any-many others. Is the tie which gives coherence to this group a professional one?Continue Reading »

Is Social Work A Profession? (1915)

Early in his presentation, Abraham Flexner said: “…However, I have not been asked to decide whether social work is a full-time or a part-time occupation, whether, in a word, it is a professional or an amateur occupation. I assume that every difficult occupation requires the entire time of those who take it seriously, though of course work can also be found for volunteers with something less than all their time or strength to offer. The question put to me is a more technical one. The term profession, strictly used, as opposed to business or handicraft, is a title of peculiar distinction, coveted by many activities. Thus far it has been pretty indiscriminately used. Almost any occupation not obviously a business is apt to classify itself as a profession. Doctors, lawyers, preachers, musicians, engineers, journalists, trained nurses, trapeze and dancing masters, equestrians, and chiropodists-all speak of their profession. Continue Reading »

Social Work: The Case Worker’s Task – 1917

I know that some leaders feel that this would be quite futile, that social case work as a separate discipline is soon to disappear, to be absorbed into medicine on the one hand and education’ on the other. Both of these are welcome to absorb all that they can contain, but there is going to remain a large field quite neglected unless we cultivate it. As democracy advances there can be neither freedom nor equality without that adaptation to native differences, without that intensive study and intensive use of social relationships for which social case work stands.Continue Reading »

Social Work: What is the Job of a Community Organizer? – 1948

Community organization must never be seen as merely a job. We are working with the materials out of which a community is built, a cooperative society is fashioned. We are in the thick of the personal, group, and inter-group relationships that make up modern social life. The community organization worker needs a sense of vocation. He is performing an essential function. He is a producer and conserver of social values. He has a vital and crucial role to play in the social drama of our time-the role of a servant of democracy.Continue Reading »

Social Work: Community Organization Process – 1947

Urban League finds it easy to talk about the principles of good housing for all the people, but when steps to attain that housing contravene the purposes of profit interest groups, threaten to change the racial character of a given neighborhood, or run into the cross fire of opposing citizen interests, the League finds that principles constitute one thing and practice something entirely different. Thus, in organizing the community for social action, it must be remembered that frequently all the community cannot be organized, and a choice, therefore, must be made as to with which groups the agency will work. It mut be remembered, also, that even when over-all community support is essential, the cells of hidden or open resistance must be located and either isolated or dissolved before the organizing process can gain its full momentum.Continue Reading »

Social Work: Community Organization

If we define community organization in its broadest sense, as a recent writer has done, as “deliberately directed effort to assist groups in attaining unity of purpose and action… in behalf of either general or special objectives,” it is clear that a substantial part of community organization falls even outside the broader field of “social welfare,” of which the whole of social work is an integral part. But it is also clear that another substantial part, whose function has been described in a recent report as that of creating and maintaining “a progressively more effective adjustment between social welfare resources and social welfare needs,” certainly belongs within the “social welfare” field. But does this practice of community organization for a “social welfare” purpose conform to our criteria of generic social work practice?Continue Reading »

Social Work Training: A 1905 Report by Graham Taylor

In 1903-4 announcement was made of the establishment in London at the initiative of Mr. C. S. Loch and the Charity Organisation Society of a “School of Sociology and Social Economics.” The same year the New York Charity Organization Society supplemented its summer school by winter courses arranged chiefly for charity workers employed during the day.
Encouraged by the demand for training, the existence of which was demonstrated by such partial advantages as had been offered, the “New York School of Philanthropy” was opened the same year with a curriculum extending through eight autumn and winter months and including a full rounded course of training, with many lines of specialized study.Continue Reading »

Haynes, George Edmund (1880 – 1960)

Southern segregation policies were granted legitimacy by the Supreme Court’s “separate but equal” ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson. The alternatives for former slaves were limited. They could work for white farmers as tenants or sharecroppers, barely a step above slavery, or they could leave the South. Many opted to migrate and moved north to find a better life. Two people stepped forward at this time to provide leadership and help build an organization dedicated to empowering African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream – one Negro, one white; one man, one woman – and together, they founded the National Urban League.Continue Reading »

Social Work: Group Work and Change – 1935

Social work in its various forms addresses the multiple, complex transactions between people and their environments. Its mission is to enable all people to develop their full potential, enrich their lives, and prevent dysfunction. Professional social work is focused on problem solving and change. As such, social workers are change agents in society and in the lives of the individuals, families and communities they serve. Social work is an interrelated system of values, theory and practice. (Grace Coyle, 1935)Continue Reading »

Frazier, Edward Franklin

Edward Franklin Frazier (September 24, 1894 – May 17, 1962) — Advocate for social justice, administrator, author and
social work educator. Written by Angelique Brown, MSWContinue Reading »

View graphic version