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But Is It Social Work? Some Reflections on Mistaken Identities

Richard Hugman
The British Journal of Social Work
Vol. 39, No. 6 (2009), pp. 1138-1153
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23724136
Page Count: 16
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But Is It Social Work? Some Reflections on Mistaken Identities
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Abstract

Throughout its history, social work has been marked by disputes about its identity, especially in the 'global North'. The question of where boundaries, if any, should be drawn around the profession is one that apparently has not been resolved. In particular, should the focus of social work be on 'micro' or 'macro' issues and what problems are at stake in such debates? As professional social work continues to develop in many countries, these questions continue to be posed and to be contested. This paper reviews the core issues of such debates, noting that they are important because they show the inevitably contested nature of social work and arguing for a breadth of vision in discussions about this. It suggests that by considering a common thread but, at the same time, recognizing diversity, the profession will be able to maintain and further develop a coherent broad identity. In particular, it is suggested that countries of the 'global North', where modern social work first began to professionalize, can gain by considering development of different 'authentic' forms of social work in the 'global South'.

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