A social worker assisting a family with public aid.
A social worker assists a family with public aid.

An Introduction

In the nineteenth century, modern social work arose to solve the issues caused by the growth of the industrial society (Friedlander, 1967:3). While all religious traditions have a history of individuals and institutions assisting the less fortunate, it was only in modern society that "helping" became a career and professional social work evolved. The professionalization of the assisting profession was both a result of and a cause of social change. 

The major social, political, and economic changes that affected the emergence of social work in the West were social, political, and economic. The industrial society gives birth to a slew of hitherto unseen issues. Some of the most significant impacts were urbanisation and large-scale movement of individuals from rural to urban regions in pursuit of work. Rural communities were declining, as were traditional means of social control. People in the city frequently faced moral and monetary difficulties. The institutions that were previously responsible for welfare, such as the family and churches, were unable to deal with the societal challenges. Volunteers, primarily middle-class white women, laboured among the impoverished and needy to ease their social and financial issues, which laid the groundwork for modern social work. However, there is a rising recognition that charity must be organised in order to cut costs and become more humanistic (Desai, 2002). The Charity Organization Societies (COS) and settlement houses were forerunners in this field. The COS was created in the United Kingdom in 1869 and in the United States in 1877. The COS deployed a number of "visitors" to evaluate customers deemed needy by voluntary organisations. This technique brought some structure to the then-chaotic condition of distributing charity to the destitute. Second, the question of therapy was raised, as the COS gave not only aid but also social and psychological support. 

As a result, COS visitors can be considered forerunners of the method –case work. Third, the establishment of specialized agencies for the coordination and administration of welfare services was widely used. These movements may be traced back to the commencement of utilising a systematic approach to dealing with the impoverished. The first settlement houses were built in the United States in 1889. The settlement houses were organisations where university students stayed with the poor to help them and learn about their lives. These houses' methods can be summed up as the three R's: residence, reform, and research. Living with those who required assistance reduced the distance between the client and the practitioner. 

The primary goal of the COS was to reform the poor through counselling and support, whereas the settlement house sought to understand the poor and solve the underlying causes of poverty. Another major effect was the rise of social movements in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Some of the most prominent were labour movements, socialist movements, women's movements, and racial justice movements. The rights of the physically and mentally impaired, children, refugees, and the destitute were increasingly recognised. Several social workers either started or were heavily affected by these movements. For example, Jane Addams, the founder of Chicago's settlement houses, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her contributions to the peace movements. Social workers were at the forefront of legislative efforts to protect the rights of the disabled, minorities, and women. 

The expanding role of the state in welfare programmes was another major aspect in the development of professional social work. The government was given the obligation of giving financial assistance to the needy parts of society through the Social Security Act of 1935. In most European countries, the welfare component of the government has expanded. The welfare programmes were organised and implemented by professional social workers, giving the profession more prominence and respectability.

The growing importance of social work in society necessitated the development of a structured educational system that would prepare social workers to perform their duties successfully. Columbia University was the first university to offer formal education, offering a six-week training programme for volunteers working in the humanitarian sector in 1896. As the number of courses available grew, so did the number of courses available. As the number of subjects studied grew, so did the duration. Newcomer (1959) mentions three events that aided the emergence of social work education in the United States. I the formation of privately funded women's institutions and co-educational public universities; (ii) the growth of social sciences as academic subjects; and (iii) the establishment of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections (Desai, 2002). By the early twentieth century, social work courses had become a part of the American university system. The content and duration of the social work courses, on the other hand, were a source of contention. The Association of Schools of Social Work (AASSW) developed a minimum one-year curriculum in 1932, which includes mandatory courses in medical and psychiatric information research, social law, and legal aspects of social work (Dnnear, 1984, cited in Reamer). Public welfare, social case work, social group work, community organisation, medical information, social research, psychiatry, and social welfare administration were recognised as eight subjects that should be taught in social work courses by the AASSW in 1944. In 1952, the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) was established to oversee social work education.

It established the first systematic curriculum policy in 1962, dividing the curriculum into three areas: social welfare policy and services, human behaviour and the social environment, and social work practise methods. In 1982, the following assessment highlighted the importance of liberal arts in the curriculum, identifying five key areas: human behaviour and social environment, social welfare policies and services, social work practise, research, and field practicum. Values and ethics, cultural and ethnic diversity, population at risk, human behaviour and social environment, social welfare policy and services, social work practise, research, and field practicum were all highlighted in 1992. In the United States, there is currently broad agreement on the areas that must be included in formal social work training. (Reamer, \s1994:1-12).

The World Census of Social Work Education 1998-1999, conducted by the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW), provided a global picture of the topic of study in social work courses (excluding India). Research, social policy, personal and interpersonal intervention, and community intervention were offered by 68.7% of the schools, while Social and Public Administration, Social History and Philosophy, Ethnic and Cultural Focus, Biopsychosocial Theory, and Organizational Theory were offered by 50% to 54 percent of all schools outside the United States. The social work curriculum represents the knowledge that must be passed on to newcomers to the field and ensures that service standards are met. The current curriculum can be broken down into four parts: 

(1) Human behavior and social environment, which will incorporate social reality theories. This area of social work expertise is heavily influenced by social science disciplines such as sociology, psychology, history, and economics.

 (2) Social policy, as well as social welfare policy and management. This section draws on policy sciences and government administration, as well as 

(3) social work practice. This part is heavily reliant on social work approaches such as case work, group work, and community organization. Within these models, social work has developed a variety of intervention methods, such as the task-centered ecology model, 

(4) Social work research, which focuses on evaluating and assessing the effectiveness of various intervention methods, as opposed to social science research, which aims for a dispassionate search for truth. With the gradual acknowledgment of social work as a field, the number of publications and papers relevant to its practise has increased. 'Social diagnosis,' a book by Mary Richmond, detailed strategies for understanding and diagnosing social reality. It had an impact on social work practise since it was one of the first texts to comprehensively define practise approaches. Grace Coyle, Mary Follet, and others also contributed to the evolution of group work expertise.


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