History of Social Divisions in Society and the Role of the Social Worker

History of Social Divisions in Society and the Role of the Social Worker

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Power and powerlessness go hand in hand as to have one the other must exist. As society is not egalitarian and never shall be, there will always be inequalities. These inequalities can be on both personal and structural levels. To enable us to understand power and social work we must firstly understand the theoretical explanation of the distribution of power, privilege, prestige and powerlessness within western society by looking at social divisions, class and their positions within society.

Marx was interested in the theories of economic development, he believed that economy was dominated by agriculture and power was held by the aristocratic landowner, in the period when manufacture was the dominant mode of production which he called the ‘bourgeoisie age’. According to Marx the history of human society past and present, has been that of class struggles. There has always been subdivisions within society into different ranks, where social positions have come into grades. The ‘bourgeoisie age’ has been split into two classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

Marx defined class in the term of dominant ‘mode of production’ and the position within the social organisation of the means of production, within industrial capitalism it was the bourgeoisie who owns the means of production and as a result exploits the proletariat who sells his labour to the owners of the means of production. The industrial middle class had created an industrial proletariate and the success of the middle class would ensure other classes would slip down into the proletariat, the lower middle class would be excluded from the bourgeoisie as they did not have enough capital to compete, this combined with the immersation of the proletariat to keep co...


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...rkers are in fact in alliance with the state and are instruments of state power who may at times be, themselves tied and bound by the power given to them, as stated by Harris
“Social Workers s power is expressed not just by what they do but by what they are, and they are subject to the very power they are themselves exercising”
in Davis,M (2000) page 28
Social workers may very well find themselves at times in a no win situation whilst they are striving to empower the service user.






Works Cited


Adams, R. Dominelli, L. & Payne, M (2002) Social Work, Themes Issues and Critical Debates Palgrave Hampshire

Harris, R in Davis, M(2000) Blackwell Companion Blackwell Oxford

Payne, M (1996) Professional Social Work Venture Press Birmingham

Power and Social Work (2003) Lecture notes University

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