The Profession Of Social Work

1854 Words8 Pages
Through the ages of civilization, mankind has struggled with understanding and addressing the needs of all members of society. Social work, a profession concerned with addressing the needs of all people, did not spring up over night. Through the centuries, a collection of laws, conditions and pioneers have all contributed to the field we see today. This paper will explore the precursors of the current profession of social work and will then explore the evolution of the individual characteristics that separates social work from a hobby, cause or discipline. A Historical Exploration of the Profession of Social Work Social work is a profession that seems to have as many definitions as it has professionals that practice it. Upon asking someone…show more content…
The IFSW (Global, 2014) has defined social work as “a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people.” Since the first class was offered at Columbia University in 1898 (Social Work History, n.d.), countless lives have been touched and impacted by the practice and social workers everywhere. According to the NASW (Social Work History, n.d.), there are currently over 650,000 social workers in the United States alone, but where did this profession originate? The origins of social work is one that can be difficult to pin point and with good reason. The beauty of human nature is the innate desire to team together, to sacrifice for others, and to right wrongs. These are all traits of a social worker, but what separates the social worker from others is the fact that social work has gone from a noble cause to a profession. In his well-renowned article, Greenwood (1957) lays the foundation for the characteristics one can look for in a discipline to label it as a profession. These five characteristics- systematic theory, authority, community sanction, ethical codes and a culture- have become a part of the required training and everyday paradigm of social workers around
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