social work

Topics: Sociology, Social work, Social sciences Pages: 5 (1689 words) Published: April 24, 2014
History of social work influences current professional practice In this essay I will outline the historical origins of social work in Ireland. I will examine how the profession emerged from charity work in the 19th century to evolve into the profession it is today. To begin with it is important to define the term social work. The Oxford English Dictionary (1989) defines social work as ‘work of benefit to those in need of help, especially professional or voluntary service of a specialised nature concerned with community welfare and family or social problems arising mainly from poverty, mental or physical handicap, maladjustment, delinquency etc.’ According to Skehill (1999) social work in Ireland has evolved over for phases all of which will be discussed in this essay. The first of these was the emergence of social work in the 19th century through voluntary work carried out by various organisations, followed by the early 20th century when professional social work in Ireland began, the third phase as described by Skehill (1999) saw the growth in social work employment and training in Ireland. The final phase in the history of social work brings us from the 1950’s up to the present day which has seen the evolution of social work into the profession it is today. According to Skehill (1999) social work in most cases around the world has emerged from voluntary philanthropy. This is true for the case of social work in Ireland. The history of social work in Ireland begins in the late 19th century, in which religion and charity played important roles. The beginning of social work can be related to charity work. In England work similar to that of social work today was carried out by the Charitable Organisation Society. In Ireland in 1902 G.W. Williams developed a register for all charities operating in Dublin. He found that there were four hundred and one charities in Dublin at that time. All of these charities were operating separately. Charity work and philanthropy during the 19th century in Ireland was organised by various charities, institutions and individuals, each of these worked individually to help the poor and those in need. Their work was in areas such as providing material resources, parenting skills and education. The rational for this philanthropy included a humanitarian concern, a desire to regulate the poor and in particular to regulate women and a concern for maintaining social order and morality. This philanthropy work that was carried out in the 19th century can now be identified as various professions such as teaching, nursing and social work. Along with this work and in addition to it Catholic and Protestant religious orders were carrying out charity work such as home visits to the poor, visiting prisons, workhouses, setting up orphanages and schools and providing homes for unmarried mothers. The rivalry between the religions meant that in addition to providing for the poor they were also trying to promote their religion. As stated in Luddy (1995) the differences between the Catholic and Protestant charities was the way in which they carried out their work. Catholic run charities tended to focus on providing a range of services, whereas Protestant charities tended to provided services on a specialist basis. Religious orders at the time were opposed to State intervention in relation to educational and residential services and also more broadly within the area of philanthropy in the community. This was based on the belief that charity could be best provided by voluntary services, who could distinguish between the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor. Catholicism remained very strong and influential in Ireland and so Catholic values and principles became a central aspect to social work in Ireland up to the 1960’s (Skehill, 1999). The early 20th century brought change to social work in Ireland. In the early decades of the century, particularly until the 1930’s social work continued to be dominated by voluntary...
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