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The Social Assignment of Social Work

Charles R. Atherton
Social Service Review
Vol. 43, No. 4 (Dec., 1969), pp. 421-429
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30021471
Page Count: 9
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The Social Assignment of Social Work
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Abstract

Social work is defined as the technology which has been given the responsibility for the control of dependency. "Dependency" is defined as a state of being in which one is not able to function in his various social roles using resources that he currently has available to him. Using the framework of social systems theory, this paper sees the major function of social work as the provision of interventive services at the level of the social system and at the level of the actor. The goal of this intervention is to provide resources for the individual that enable him to perform legitimate social roles and to change or repair social system elements that are dysfunctional and lead to dependency. This activity is the core of the professional assignment of social work and the major thing for which social work is held accountable by both society and the clientele. No value assumptions are involved other than that of utility, i.e., this assignment is made in the mutual need of society and the individual to survive in a stable relationship.

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