IDEOLOGIES OF SOCIAL WORK
If the global historical background of social work is analyzed, we can understand the following ideologies of social work.
Social Work as Charity
Religion encouraged individual to help their neighbors who were in need of help. The people who were in need of help were given alms. Those who are helped them, given alms out of charity. Thus western countries started their social work practice with charity mode. As religion encouraged them to help their fellow human beings who were poor, they started giving alms in cash and kind. Soon they realized that could not give enough to the increasingly poor and a way out was required to overcome the problem. At that time the state (Government of UK) intervened by enacting legislation and initiating state responsibility to take care of the poor.
Welfare Social Work Approach
The state started providing its share of service by giving alms and by passing the Elizabethan Poor Law (1601) in the UK to deal with the poor. The Act divided the poor into three categories, the able-bodied poor, the impotent poor, and the dependent children. The first category was forced to work in the workhouses, whereas the other two categories were given alms in alms houses. The Act, as well as subsequently passed enactments were unable to solve the problem of poverty. The government realized that an individualized approach was needed to understand the problem. The problem may be one, but different individuals have different causes for the same problem. They realized that the individual cause had to be investigated for its solution. Hence charity organizations were started to do that work.
Clinical Social Work Approach
In 1935, the Social Security Act was passed recognizing the need to help the poor. The Act was meant to handle the problems that were a consequence of industrialization. The state took over some of the financial problems of the people. A large number of volunteers were taken. As volunteers are trained people who can do casework practice, they also supervise untrained people. Most people realized that money alone could not solve problems and they turned to counseling roles. Counseling has drawn its base from psychological sciences, particularly from Psychoanalytical theory.
Ecological Social Work Approach
In the ecological social work approach problems are seen as deficits in the environment and not as personal deficits of the individual. Social work tradition emphasized social treatment and social reform which became the basis for the ecological approach. Professional social workers and their employing agencies consider themselves as change agents aiming at systemic change. Identifying the problem, identifying the clients and target system (which is causing the problem) finding out the decision-making on the goals of change in collaboration with clients, and identifying of “action system” with which change agents can achieve goals for change are the steps in the ecological approach.
Radical Social Work Approach
Social workers are not satisfied only with the care of the disabled and the deviants. In 1970, due to the influence of Marxism, they advocated oppression as the cause of many problems. They broadened their professional responsibilities to include reform and development in order to bring about an equitable social order.
Some radicals in the profession have gone beyond social reform and development. The social worker’s aim is to change the system by bringing basic changes in the social institutions and relationships instead of dealing with adjustment problems and seeing individuals as victims of an unjust social order. This is called radical social work and for various reasons, it has also failed to deal with the problems.
Progressive Social Work
Progressive social workers may identify themselves as radicals, activists., They are unhappy about the injustice in the society. The progressive social workers strive to alter the oppressive element in society. They help them heal their wounds and educate them to make proper choices so as to build their future.
Feminist Social Work
Liberal feminism is the school of thought that emphasizes the equality of sexes and demands legal reforms and equal opportunities for suffrage, education, and employment to both men and women. Liberal feminists do not analyze the roots of gender oppression in the society.
Marxist feminists view women’s oppression as the outcome of the capitalist mode of production. Where there is a division between domestic work and wage work, only the latter is productive.