Defining Social Work for the 21st Century

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International Social Work
http://isw.sagepub.com Defining Social Work for the 21st Century: The International Federation of Social Workers' Revised Definition of Social Work Isadora Hare International Social Work 2004; 47; 407 DOI: 10.1177/0020872804043973 The online version of this article can be found at: http://isw.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/47/3/407

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International Association of Schools of Social Work

International Council of Social Welfare

International Federation of Social Workers

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International Social Work 47(3): 407–424 Sage Publications: London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi DOI: 10.1177/0020872804043973

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Defining social work for the 21st century
The International Federation of Social Workers’ revised definition of social work

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Isadora Hare

At its biennial general meeting held in Montreal in July 2000, the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) agreed on a new international definition of social work, replacing a previous version from 1982. At the same time, the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) also adopted this definition at its General Assembly. Subsequently, at the IASSW–IFSW meeting in Copenhagen in June 2001, both organizations agreed to formally adopt it as the joint international definition. Written in English, the definition has now been translated into 15 languages (IFSW, 2002). This initiative was begun in 1994 under the leadership of Elis Envall, a Swedish social worker, who was president of IFSW at that time. Cognizant of the major world changes that had occurred since 1982 – technologically, economically, politically and culturally – and that social work itself had proliferated across the globe, he believed that the profession needed to define the parameters of its practice and its values and knowledge base, thereby equipping it to participate more fully in international affairs (Envall, 2000: 4). The phenomenon of globalization served as the backdrop to the initiative (Ellwood, 2001; Langmore, 1998; Midgley, 1993, 1997a, 2000b). Globalization is a complex concept, most often associated

Isadora Hare is employed as a Public Health Analyst with the Office of Adolescent Health, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, US Department of Health and Human Services. All views expressed in this article, however, are hers alone. Address : 11509 Parkedge Drive, Rockville MD 20852, USA. [email: ihare@hrsa.gov]

Downloaded from http://isw.sagepub.com by HARRY PURNAMA on November 30, 2007 © 2004 IASSW, ICSW, IFSW. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.

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International Social Work volume 47(3)

with economic trends which have developed and accelerated over the last 25 years. Midgley has defined globalization as ‘a process of global integration in which diverse peoples, economies, cultures, and political processes are increasingly subjected to international influences’ (1997a: xi). Economics is therefore but one aspect of globalization which also has social, demographic, political and cultural dimensions. Within this complex network of factors, social work has many roles to play. Foremost among these is the promotion of social development (Bose, 1992). The contemporary social development perspective focuses on the...
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