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Boundaries of Social Work or Social Work of Boundaries?: The Social Service Review Lecture

Andrew Abbott
Social Service Review
Vol. 69, No. 4 (Dec., 1995), pp. 545-562
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30012869
Page Count: 18
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Boundaries of Social Work or Social Work of Boundaries?: The Social Service Review Lecture
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Abstract

In this article, I sketch three successive conceptions of social work as a profession. The first takes a functionalist approach-social work as the profession of interstitiality. Difficulties in this view lead to a second, ecological approach. Here social work is a complex defended turf in the system of professions. Explaining the origins of this turf requires a network-constitutive approach, in which social work arises out of a set of social "boundary groups" capable of assembly into such a defensible turf. These three views capture different aspects of the profession, as well as different times in its development. I close with some speculations about the future of the profession.

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