CHAPTER 1 SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE AND ITS HISTORICAL TRADITIONS W e assume that most students will be taught social welfare history in other classes however, we believe that no prac- tice textbook is complete unless it starts with the origins of the profession, how it developed, and the divergent perspectives that continue to be debated today. In the practice course, we recommend that instructors focus on the following topics from this chapter, which are most salient for students’ field practicum experience. Summary of Content 1. Methodological Divisions Two institutions—the settlement house and the charity organization society (COS), created to deal with industrialization, urbanization, and poverty—set the stage for the methodological divisions that continue to characterize the profession. Both movements were unresponsive to, and largely ignored, the needs of persons of color, leading to separate systems of social welfare. Because the various social work methods largely developed separately, the profession continues to struggle with integrating them. Students are likely to encounter this bifurcation in their field placement, where direct services are frequently offered in an “either/or” fashion: casework or group work or family work. The lack of integration also is reflected in the distinction that is made all too often between social work as a cause and as a function.
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