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With the growing emphasis on professionalism and autonomy in social work practice, the importance of supervision is receiving new attention in the literature. In this paper the "functional" nature of supervision is analyzed through exploration of the emphasis in practice on the administrative and teaching aspects of supervision, and how these concepts appear to have become measures of exercising authority and control rather than promoting independence, while independence is epitomized as the essence of practice. Merton's views on the sociological perspective of functionalism are applied to the debate on authority in supervision versus autonomy in practice.
Journal of Education for Social Work © 1976 Taylor & Francis, Ltd.