Academic Master


The History of Social Work as a Profession

Berta Reynolds (1883-1978) began her social work practice at the orphanage in Boston, USA, and sought to combine the education of white and colored children. Work at the orphanage convinced her that it was not the person who was to change, but American society, its economic structure and the nature of interethnic relations. It is interesting to see her view that a social worker should perform a function of a kind of public controller of how social policy is implemented and how much it corresponds to the real needs of society.

The object of social work is people who need outside help: the elderly, pensioners, disabled, seriously ill, children; people who have fallen into a difficult life situation – trouble; teenagers caught up in a bad company, and many others. Social work as a special kind of activity, object, subject, content and means of social work.

Social work as a system of knowledge about the possibilities and methods of rendering assistance to those in need was formed, first of all, at the level of ordinary knowledge, in practical activity. And today, when it comes to the formation of the theory of social work as a science, knowledge “everyday”, based on everyday experience and observation, is of great importance for the social worker. Ordinary knowledge also fixes the truth, although it does it in an unsystematic, non-special way, unlike knowledge of the scientific.

When choosing social technologies and methods, the social worker should take into account the existing level of knowledge about this problem in the client himself or the nature of his emotional attitude toward them, as well as the stereotypes that exist in society, the social group or the individual person in one way or another related to this problem.

The foundations of the theory of social work, scientific methods and the most important categories were laid by the works of M. Richmond “A Friendly Visit to the Poor: A Guide for Workers in Charitable Organizations” (1899) and “Social Diagnoses” (1917) and the entire American School of Social Work [29]. The modern theory of social work is characterized by an integrative and interdisciplinary approach. The theoretical basis for social work is currently in three directions. First, it determines the place of social work as a science among related social disciplines: philosophy, history, political science, social psychology, cultural studies, etc.

Secondly, the theoretical substantiation of social work as a specific object of research is being sought, and, finally, the interaction of the latter with other sciences about man and society is revealed. Sociology and psychology, as well as such scientific disciplines as pedagogy, psychiatry, anthropology, jurisprudence, etc., have the greatest influence on its development. This is manifested, first of all, in the diversity of models of the theory of social work.

The peculiarity of the theory of social work is also reflected in the place that this science occupies among others. To date, the theory of social work acts as an independent branch of social humanitarian knowledge in the system of social sciences, for which integrativity and applied orientation are characteristic. Thus, there is every reason to characterize the theory of social work as a specific area of scientific knowledge.

Burhus Frederic Skinner (1904-1990) studied the problems of managing people’s behavior. He believed that three factors should be taken into account:

An event that causes a certain reaction of a person;

The very reaction is its nature and form;


Jean Piaget (1896-1960) developed the concept of the connection of the child’s socialization with the individual development of the individual. Four prominent women researchers made a significant contribution to the development of the theory and practice of social work. Josephine Shaw Lawle (1843-1905), a prominent figure in a charitable organization in New York, conducted research on the nature of poor people, and organized the movement of poor women. Mary Richmond (1861-1928) acquired extensive experience in social work as an assistant to the head of a large charitable organization in Baltimore (USA). The knowledge of theory and personal experience allowed her in 1917 to publish the book “What is social therapy,” which quickly gained popularity. Jane Adams (1860-1935) invested a lot of energy in the organization of the movement “New Modern Woman” and, being free from many prejudices, called for educating people’s attention to other people’s ills, their readiness to come to the aid of those in need. In 1932, her great contribution to the development of theory and practice of social work was awarded the Nobel Prize.

The next mandatory component of social work as a system is content. It follows directly from the functions of the work. In its most general terms, the functions are: information, diagnostic, prognostic, organizational, psychological-pedagogical, practical assistance, management.

The social worker begins his activity by collecting information about its object. It clarifies the sex, age, state of health, living conditions, the ability to provide oneself with everything necessary for life, material prosperity, marital status, neighbor environment, peculiarities of the psyche, character, etc. In a word, he is engaged in information work.

On the basis of collected information about his future wards, the social worker puts a “diagnosis”: assesses the scope, types of work, the mode of his activity, difficulties, forms of methods, makes for himself the routine of the working day, plans physical and material costs,

In parallel with the “diagnosis”, the social worker also arranges the diagnosis of his activities: it is difficult – he will easily work, can he or she provide effective help, with what official and unofficial organizations he will have to deal with the “patient”, etc.

Depending on the nature of social assistance (providing, for example, social assistance to a single patient or removing psychological stress), a work plan is also drawn up, its content and type of practical assistance are determined. Regardless of whether the social worker is an organizer or a practical worker, he or she has to deal with managerial activities in one way or another. The management of social work also constitutes an important and necessary component of its content.

Social work is carried out with the help of funds. Means are all those objects, tools, adaptations, actions by which the goals of activity are achieved. The variety of functions of social work is also caused by the diversity of its means. It is almost impossible to list them. This is the word, and a pen, and special account forms, and telephone, and business connections, and methods of psychotherapy, and personal charm, etc. It is important to keep in mind that the richer the arsenal of means that the social worker has and possesses, the more successful is his activity. The choice and application of these or other means entirely depends on the nature and characteristics of the object of social work. It’s one thing to be lying patient, the other a lactating single mother. The set of funds in these cases differs significantly.

In connection with this, the subjects of social work are the ones who provide help, support and protects. As subjects of social work are the people, institutions and organizations (charitable organizations, public charity such as The Red Cross and Red Crescent is and organizations: Russian Association of Human Services, the Association of Social Educators and Social Workers, the Union of Officers), social institutions designed tackle and solve certain tasks, the challenges facing the objects of social work. The current subjects of social work have varying degrees of involvement in the practice of social work, as the high degree of involvement is characteristic of the public sector; average – the non-governmental and commercial sector.

The State is pursuing a policy aimed at regulating the activities of the monasteries, limiting the spread of professional begging. It takes control of the activities of alms-houses, accommodation in these patients and the needy. It takes the first attempts to combat hunger and epidemics. To this end, organize orders and publishes a number of laws regulating the activities of local authorities, churches, feudal and “lean people” during the famine. “Zhitnyaya order” was in charge of courts, where it was stored grain reserve in case of famine. Introduced a state monopoly on prices, distribution of bread in debt, the right of the transition from feudal to other lands. In 1682 he was accepted “verdict” (decision) of the Church Council of the charity patients and the needy.

1700-1860 was the time of formation of the state system of social protection. Public charity is not only limited to social assistance but also includes measures for education and professional education, social class education, the integration of women in various spheres of activity, education and vocational training of disabled persons. This period is characterized by a high-lift system of social protection, but at the same time, the lack of a common approach to social security need, frequency, and decentralization in the field of fiscal policy. Decree number 1856 to 1701 8 June namely, the definition of brownies in the Holy Patriarch poorhouse poor, the sick and the elderly, in 1701, June 8th Peter the Great issued a decree “On the determination in the houses of His Holiness Patriarch poorhouse poor, the sick and the elderly”

Summarizing, we can say that social work as a science is a sphere of human activity for the development and theoretical systematization of objective knowledge about the social sphere and the specifics of social activity. One of the most important tasks of social work as science is the analysis of forms and methods of social work, the development of optimal technologies and methods for resolving the social problems of society. Social work as a science combines the theoretical (empirical) and applied knowledge system. And the applied part in it prevails, which distinguishes it from other scientific disciplines.



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