What is social work and why do we need it

Topics: Social work, Sociology, Social justice Pages: 4 (1232 words) Published: March 25, 2014

To clearly define what social work is can be difficult due to the diversity of the profession. The reasons we need social work are a little easier to identify. Through examination of current literature, this paper examines what social work is and why we need social work

Often when we meet someone new the first question they ask is “what do you do for a living?” This question of what we do appears to be something that, in many ways, defines us as a person. When the question of what we do is answered with “I am a social worker” it tends to lead to additional questions such as “what is a social worker?” or “what does a social worker do?” Through examination of some of the current literature on the topic of social work, this paper will seek to answer the question “what is social work and why do we need it?”

The question “what is social work?” should be an easy one to answer. The definition of social work is readily available from The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) who defines social work as:

“The social work profession promotes social change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. Utilising theories of human behaviours and social systems, social work intervenes at the point where people interact with their environments. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work” (IFSW, 2012).

But what does that really mean? In order to fully understand what social work is, first we need to examine social works origins (Skehill, 2007). According to Mendes (2010), understanding the history of social work is an important aspect in developing social works identity. Social works origins can be traced back to early 1800’s to a group known as the ‘Friendly Visitors’ (Chenoweth & McAuliffe, 2012). The Friendly Visitors would go and visit poor and needy families and assess them and then attempt to...
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