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Systems theory has received considerable attention in social work and appears to be in use at all levels of planning and practice. There is some indication, however, that this acceptance has occurred without much attention to its structural properties and their practical implications. This paper discusses some of the basic elements of systems theory, noting both reasons for their appeal to social workers and dangers involved in their uncritical application. Specific attention is paid to the issue of analogies in theory building and to systems theory implications for dealing with macrosocial phenomena, social change, and power.
Journal of Education for Social Work © 1977 Taylor & Francis, Ltd.