History of Social Work
Social workers have played an important role in the advancement of human civilization since long ago. They uphold social justice by reducing inequality and promoting human rights. Social workers try to improve the quality of life of unfortunate people in the society and help them realize their true potential. This is done through counseling, mediating between the needy and charitable organizations or the government, and other activities. Social work helps to solve a lot of problems in the society, and it contributes significantly towards the cultural and moral advancement of humankind.
Origins and Modern History of Social Work
All major religions encourage people to help the poor, and some of these religions were formed thousands of years ago. Therefore, it can be said that social work originated in the ancient times, when human beings started to perform charity work. In the western world, the first documented instance of organized social work occurred during the 3rd century, right after the Christian Church was legalized by Roman Emperor Constantine I. The church set up hospitals, poorhouses, orphanages, and homes for the elderly, and these establishments received grants from the Roman Empire. By the 6th century, the church had developed an elaborate system for distributing food and other consumables to the poor. Later on, it would encourage the European public to offer direct relief to the unfortunate.
During the 19th century, the industrial revolution led to a lot of social problems in England and the United States, including poverty, diseases, mental disorders, prostitution, and others. As such, there was a great need for social work. Churches and governments established effective systems and laws to provide assistance for the needy, and many individuals started to form groups and organizations to perform social work.
Jane Addams, Mother of Social Work
Jane Addams was one of the first social workers in the US. When she was 27 years old, she visited the Toynbee Hall settlement house in London, and she developed an aspiration to open a similar house in Chicago. In 1889, she partnered with her friend Ellen Starr to set up a settlement house called the Hull-House. They gave speeches about the social problems that were plaguing their neighborhood, raised funds, and encouraged young women to become volunteer social workers. After two years, the Hull-House was providing assistance to around 2,000 people every week. As she became more famous in Chicago, she began to take on greater civic responsibilities, such as founding a school of philanthropy, conducting investigations on social problems, and campaigning for peace. For her extraordinary efforts in social work, Jane Addams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in the year 1931.
Social Work in America
Before the 18th century, public health was the only form of social welfare that was available in the US. During the early part of the next century, almhouses were set up in a number of major cities around the country, and these almhouses were transformed into hospitals later on. Mass migrations to the US in the 19th century resulted in serious social problems, and this called for a more efficient way to provide aid to the unfortunate. The establishment of settlement houses and social work departments sparked the beginning of modern social work in the US. By 1911, there were more than 40 social work departments in 14 cities, and the number grew to 200 in 1913. Now, social work in the US is regarded as one of the most efficient and effective in the world.
Social Work in the UK
Social upheaval and mass migration contributed significantly to the evolution of social work in the UK. The populations of cities were increasing dramatically during the industrial revolution, and many people were afflicted by poverty and diseases. The UK government responded by offering free treatment in hospitals, and hospital almoners were recruited to help in the treatment of patients. These almoners were regarded as social workers, and their roles began to include other social responsibilities in the following years.
Social work has come a long way to become an important profession in the modern society. The scope of responsibilities of social work has become wider over the years, and social workers require more extensive training to perform their duties effectively. As social problems grow in the modern society, social work will continue to gain importance around the world.
Social Work Resources
To learn more about the history and advances in social work, visit these links:
- Social Work History Station: A web page that offers extensive information on the history of social work.
- Evolution of Social Work: A timeline that reveals the evolution of social work throughout history.
- Biography of Jane Addams: Comprehensive account of the life and works of Jane Addams.
- Pioneer Social Workers Database: Huge collection of biographies of important social workers in history.
- Social Work History Resources: Links to websites that provide information on social work history.
If your interested in learning more about Social Work and becoming a Social Worker you may consider a Social Work Degree:
Social Work Degrees – A listing of the various social work degrees available
Online MSW – What elements you should examine when looking for a Online MSW.
Masters Degree Social Work – A degree program for those who do not have their bachelors in social work.
Master of Social Work – A program overview of UNE’s Master of Social Work.
Online MSW Program – A advanced program that enables you to choose two unique concentrations.
Social Worker Degrees - The various degree options for social workers.
Online MSW Degree FAQS – A listing of the frequently asked questions related to an Online MSW Degree.
Masters Degree in Social Work – Why you should consider a masters degree in social work.
POSTED BY: ec_admin - May 12th, 2010 at 03:46pm ( 0 )