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Social Work: Past and Present

Updated on January 7, 2017
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Articles that I have written with social work in mind, to educate others, in hopes to lead better lives.


Social work is a very rewarding career. Many social workers have talents and gifts that allow them to excel in other professional areas. People tend to go to college for social work because of their backgrounds or experiences in life, and they want to give something back. This article will add on to what I discussed in my article, "What can you do with a degree in Social Work," and show you some of the talents and gifts of other social worker types.

A timeline into social work

Despite the fact that it took social work a long time to become a creditable occupation, a timeline was created that helped make it the occupation that it is today:

Elizabeth Fry (1817) was actually born Betsy Gurney, and she was known as "the Angel of the Prisons," because of her work reforming the British prison system. She was born a privileged Quaker in England, and had strong opinions about equality and peace. Betsy lost her mother at the age of 12, which affected her deeply. However, she continued to do "good works," and at the age of 17; she created a primary school, in her own home, for disadvantaged children. Later, she married and gave birth to 11 children, but she still continued her work in the community, visiting the sick and lonely. Fry worked for the education of working women, by establishing a nursing school, which influenced her distant relative, Florence Nightingale. Fry also worked for better housing for the poor, which included hotels for the homeless and she also founded soup kitchens. Fry organized the support of prisoners going back into the community, which brought in the jobs of Probation services. Later, Elizabeth Fry was honored in 2002 for her work by being put on the British five pound note, and in the United States, the School of Social Work, at Stanford University named a building after her.

Thomas Chalmers (1819) - helped the poor help themselves. He trained as a preacher for the Church of Scotland. He devoted much time to mathematics, became an assistant professor and an ordained minister. Chalmers was confronted with severe poverty himself, which he found disturbing. When he became a minister he experimented with the organizational structure of the parish. Chalmers did not believe in public assistance. He felt that government help unmotivated people from finding work and using their own resources. The poor would not experience the strength of their own efforts. Chalmers felt that the poor community needed an active link to the community that would address problems. Chalmers felt that whatever financial help was needed would come from the religious community. "Charity had to be preferred, as it generated altruism from the giver."

With Chalmers' understanding of the organizational structure of his parish, he divided his parish into districts, and linked one responsible person to frequent home visits, to establish a friendly relationship with the poor and monitor their situation: material context, family ties and friendships. This was Chalmers' basis for support and care. Chalmers organized primary education and weekend schools where children received education both secular and religious. Chalmers concept to help the poor help themselves is quite similar to Octavia Hill's, which was supported by friendly visiting. Thomas Chalmers approach raised interest, and influenced others in the timeline, such as Charles Loch (English Charity Organization Society), Joseph Tuckermann (Boston Society for the Prevention of Pauperism, 1835), Mary Richmond (who used it in her Friendly visiting among the poor, 1899).

In present day social work, Chalmers' concepts are relevant to social work today. Key elements can be found in community care, and current policy development. His criticism of welfare benefits is similar to more recent social policy by Charles Murray.

Octavia Hill (1864) - Social Housing and home visits - Octavia Hill was a teacher and an artist before her start in working with poorer neighborhoods. She worked with the poor and unemployed, living in cold and wet homes. Housing became her main concern. Hill believed that a well managed home with neighbors who cared about each other was a necessity. Hill bought houses what is now central London, and each week, she, personally, went to collect the rent and discussed with the tenants the problems that they faced. Housing was the starting point for her other activities: the development of gardens, creating playgrounds for kids, and organizing outings. Octavia Hill decided to live in London herself, and built a kind of clubhouse behind her own house to host activities for children, women and the elderly.

Under her management, her housing projects became an attractive investment. She expanded her work, gathering more support along the way. Many women received training to do similar roles such as Hill's, creating a supportive unit of social workers. This created empowerment and resilience among the fellow workers. Hill hated charity that created dependency. She was one of the founding members of the Charity Organization Society that was set up in 1869 with the goal of modernizing social work to wipe out poverty.

Hill's publication of "The homes of the London poor" has helped spread her ideas across the world. She had many ideas to protect the natural environment in and around London. However, her popularity eroded when the welfare state emerged, as she refused to acknowledge that significant government intervention might be needed to deal with major social problems, such as poverty, housing and unemployment.

The key to change is education. It is clearly rooted in the ideal of the middle class. Hill was a founder of modern social work.

Arnold Toynbee (1884) - University Settlement, changed how education could be developed through work in the poorer parts of cities. He was very critical of the effects of the industrial revolution which he saw emerging around him. He observed that, "the effects of the industrial revolution prove that free competition may produce wealth without producing well-being." He urged his students to engage in working with the poor population. Using the ideas of Edward Denison, Toynbee proposed schemes for "university extension," a form of outreach and supplementary learning by which students did volunteer work in the most deprived communities. (Kind of reminds me of Service Learning that my community college did.) This model received support at Oxford and Cambridge colleges, where it gained international recognition. After Toynbee's death, Barnett continued to promote the concept of university extension through the establishment of university settlements. This way, students did not only work to enhance the living conditions of the poor, they lived among them for a year. The goal was that this would strengthen the connection between the students and the residents of the urban slums, and they would get better results of social improvement and mutual learning. Students contributed to local life by studying the working class and organizing activities that contributed to community building and education. Toynbee Hall became an example of community development in both the United States and Europe. Jane Addams visited Toynbee Hall and was so enthusiastic that she brought the idea to North America. (Jane Addams is someone that we read about in social work classes.) William Beveridge, one of the people to live and work at Toynbee Hall for a short period, was followed by a number of students who went on to become social theorists and politicians.

Note: Arnold Toynbee happens to be an ancestor of Polly Toynbee, a leading journalist often writing on social issues in "The Guardian." Her book, "Hardwork," was based on experience of living on poverty wages and made impressive contribution to the difficulties faced every day by people at the bottom of the social ladder; portraying the real life and (in)humanity behind statistics.

Jane Addams (1889) - Settlement Work in North America - was born in Illinois, in a well-off Quaker family. She visited Toynbee Hall and was inspired by what he developed there, that Jane brought the same back to the United States, namely back to Chicago. Jane, and her friend, Ellen Starr created Hull House, the first settlement house, in a neighborhood with many European immigrants. Addams not only worked with the poor but took action in establishing new laws to protect them. I also learned that, "Addams refused to call her neighbors clients or cases and she could not fully respect younger social workers, for whom their services meant an eight-hour day and a home far from the slums." Jane Addams created a group of very committed young women, who became the female face of democratization movement in the Progressive Era. After the 1900s the United States became interested in women's emancipation, new social laws and attention paid to social and racial tensions. The Hull House group professionalized the contribution of women in social work, along with their neighborhood work, they contributed to a more structural political focus. In the Hull House group, they reported on the different ethnicities and their living conditions, about labor circumstances in sweatshops, and about child labor. In their research was the starting point for social action, and brought about names, such as George Herbert Mead and Robert E. Park. Addams established the basis for American social work, which raised awareness internationally. Jane Addams combined her settlement house work with her contribution to the peace movement during World War I, which earned her the nickname Saint Jane. She received the Nobel Prize in 1931.

Joseph Rowntree (1899) - A dynasty of philanthropy and research on social problems - A bit of trivia states that Joseph Rowntree's family might have been associated with a range of chocolate products, such as Smarties or Kit Kat, but their family business was taken over by Nestle, after which the Rowntree name disappeared. Again, Joseph Rowntree was a Quaker, like many others before him. After his father died, he took over the family grocery store. Later, he joined forces with his brothers and expanded his small chocolate business into a success. One brother took on the financial management of the business, while the other took care of the logistics and equipment. When Joseph joined in 1869, there were only 30 employees. Thirty years later, they grew to over 2000.

However, Joseph did not grow into a coldblooded capitalist with skills to expanding the business. He was deeply aware of the social problems in his time. He debated with others who claimed that poverty was the result of alcoholism and he set out to investigate this matter. He wrote and published "The Temperance Problem of Social Reform," along with Arthur Sherwell. He became committed to social reform. (Other historical philanthropists include Charles Booth and Benjamin Franklin, as well as the most recent, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.) Rowntree's goal for his actions was to eradicate poverty and the other social evils of his time. Rowntree created three trusts that appear to still work towards reaching his goals. One of them transformed into the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 1990. Later, his son, Benjamin Rowntree followed in his father's footsteps. Benjamin Rowntree was inspired by Charles Booth's research on poverty in London and he continued to publish the results in a survey, which started others to follow in their footsteps. The publishing after this time was Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett's "The Spirit Level."

Mary Ellen Richmond (1917) - The founding mother of social casework - constructed the foundation for the scientific methodology development of professional social work. She investigated the causes of poverty and social exclusions in the connections between an individual and his or her environment. At age 4, Mary Ellen became an orphan. She was quite intelligent and was raised by her feminist grandmother. After working 8 years in a bookshop, she dedicated the rest of her life to caring for the poor. She started her career with Charity Organization Society (COS) in Baltimore, a United States branch of the same organization that Octavia Hill established in the United Kingdom. Later, she was offered a leading position in COS in Baltimore and Philadelphia. From 1909 until her death, she was the director of the charity department of the Russell Sage Foundation, an influential fund that supports social science research.

In modern social work, there is always a need for diagnosis and research to happen before establishing care. Her first principle was that care had to focus on the person within his or her situation. She developed what she called, "social diagnosis." Her diagram visualized the connection between client and the environment. Richmond's six sources of power that are available to clients and their social workers: resources in the household, resources in the client, resources in the social network, resources in civil agencies, and resources in private and public agencies. This was the precursor of the system theory that was popular in 1970s social work, in which gave social work clients a voice for the first time. Mary Richmond opened a new area of social research, which has been used as a cornerstone of social work. It brought about broad instructions on how to gather information, interview methodologies, establishing contact and conducting conversations. Richmond gave social casework a strong professional status. Mary Richmond introduced the methods of "learning from cases." First came the open and honest communication with clients, without formalities, which strengthens the resilience of clients creating a natural component. Richmond's involving the clients in solving their own problems helps provide inspiration even a century later. Mary Richmond's work was highly influential in the United States, and internationally. There are very few countries where current social work has not been influenced by her thinking.

Alice Salomon (1929) - Internationalization of social work education - was one of the first women to study economics. In 1908, she established the Social Women's School, which was the first to offer professional training in social work. Salomon relied on her experiences as a volunteer in a girls and women's group for social unskilled labor. She started the German academy for social and educational women's work, which was taken over by the Nazis in 1933, who expelled Saloman and its Jewish employees. She later changed the school's name to the Alice Salomon School and more recently into Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences.

Salomon was a key figure in developing social work in Europe. Starting from her feminist perspective, her influence had an impact on social rights of women, the peace movement and the recognition of female professional work. In the first wave of feminism, she saw caring for the poor as something that women could get paid to do. Although upper-class women could be good at social care, their backgrounds did not prepare them for the practical aspects of this work. This made formal training necessary, which brought about professional and personal development. She stressed the importance of care plans based on research. Salomon published a book, based on European perspective, it was her version of Mary Richmond's work on social diagnosis. Salomon linked care with coaching. She played an important role in establishing the international approach to the organization of social work education. Alice Salomon was the first chair at the International Committee on Schools of Social Work in 1929. It later changed its name to International Association of Schools of Social Work. In 1937, she was evicted from Germany by the National Socialists. She emigrated to the United States where she became relatively lonely and isolated. She died in August 1948.

Orwell, Griffin and other (1933) - The (in)humanity behind statistics

"There was a time before 1933 when Eric Blair was not yet known as George Orwell, the author of "1984" and "Animal Farm." Determined that he was going to become a writer, he explored the reality of homelessness and industrial poverty. This was during a time when he was poor himself, that he needed to move to Paris where the cost of living was much lower. He wrote up his experiences in London and France upon his return to London in "Down and out in Paris and London." After investigating in the industrial northwest of England, he published "The road to Wigan pier", which provides a description of what poverty looks like. He offered a view on the (in)humanity behind statistics with more vividness than quantitative research could have offered.

Examples "Orwell describes how he and his Russian friend Boris are short of food and spend their last cash on some bread and garlic. The combination is part of their survival skills" "the point of rubbing garlic on bread is that the taste lingers and gives on the illusion of having fed recently."

Others wrote similar accounts of poverty and injustice, such as John Howard Griffin, "a white man who darkened his skin color in order to experience life like 'a black.' For several months in 1959, he lived like a black citizen in the segregated deep south of the United States. The diaries he kept were published the year after as, "Black like me." It showed the many ugly faces of day to day racism. Griffin became a respected civil rights activist. He also received death threats, and was once severely beaten by members of the KKK."

"Moore's "Disguised", is a true story from 1985. Moore was a student of gerontology and she wanted to get a better understanding of what it meant to be a senior citizen. She donned a wig and applied baby oil to her eyes to blur her vision. Traveling through the United States and Canada in this disguise she organized her own excursions into the world of the elderly. Although in the introduction of her book it claims that she was not a social worker. She most definitely is. Her project became a great example of how bad product design (buildings, vehicles and transport infrastructure) excludes the elderly. She also clearly illustrates how working on social progress can go hand in hand with business interests. Her book, "Lowest of the low," was translated into many languages and made a great impact because it illustrated both the exploitation of immigrant workers in the labor market, as well as the day to day racism shown by German people.

All of these authors are examples of the use of research and role-play techniques to highlight situations of social injustice. This is not something that is just used in the past, but is still being used in our time as well. More examples; United Kingdom journalist Polly Toynbee worked as a low-skilled employee and published her experiences in "Hard Work," (2003) United States writer Barbara Ehrenreich who did the same and published "Nickle and dimed," (2002), French journalist Florence Aubenas who lived for six months as a low-skilled single woman in a poor area of the French city Caen. "All of these research examples illustrate that life at the bottom of society is not easy. If three well educated women with plenty of life experiences did not manage to remain out of poverty when living the life of a low-skilled person, how could somebody do just that in that situation? Their research shows society still has not succeeded in building ladders out of poverty."

Bertha Reynolds (1934) is another remarkable woman to add to the contribution of North America and the history of social work, right alongside Jane Addams, Mary Richmond, and Jane Jacobs. She was born Bertha Capen in 1885, her youth became dominated by her father's early death from tuberculosis, and the family's move in Massachusetts. Her mother having already lost two children, was very protective and Bertha was home schooled. Because of this her social skills were weak. Bertha's aunt paid for her to go to college and this allowed her to graduate from Smith College in 1908. Bertha underwent psychotherapy for her own issues, and this led her to social work training, and a calling to better the world. After some years of practice, she returned to Smith College to train as a psychiatric social worker. She was attracted to the theory of Freud, and wasn't interested in the development within social work that turned every problem into an individual issue, a personal problem. She saw more benefit in structural and institutional approaches combined with care for the individual. She is seen again as a forerunner of what became radical social work.

Later, her work and views on social work were recognized and she became the associate director of Smith College School of Social Work. Then, she became interested in socialism and Marxism and began the calling for social workers to be unionized. Her views were published in her best known work, "Between client and community," published in 1934, (but not as a book until 1973) and "Learning and teaching in the practice of social work" (1942).

Reynolds created the bridge between individual social work and community development. Not everyone agreed with her views, and sympathy for politics of the left, and in 1938 resigned from Smith College. She developed short-term social work interventions as an alternative to the long-term nature of social casework. This reflects in her own biography, as she recovered in her youth after few sessions of psychotherapy.

In the 1950s, the republican United States Senator Joseph McCarthy, organized a witch-hunt against anyone who could be suspected of communist sympathies. Reynolds became a victim of this McCarthyism and the social work community ostracized her. Either case, she remained active as a social worker, trainer and author. Eventually, the social work community rehabilitated her and now she is considered the founding mother of strength-based social work, which is used today.

On Bertha Reynolds' 100th birthday, in 1985, the Bertha Capen Reynolds Society was created. It later changed named to the Social Welfare Action Alliance, SWAA.

Alcoholics Anonymous (1935) - Robert Holbrook Smith graduated at age 21 as a medical doctor from Dartmouth College and his future looked bright. To complete his training, he enrolled at the Rush Medical School in Chicago, at that time, he started drinking, socially, but soon the drinking became excessive. It began to challenge his professional competence as a doctor. He realized it was time for a change and he moved to Ohio, where he settled as a surgeon and married his high school sweetheart. Unfortunately, his addiction to alcohol wasn't conquered and his consumption soon reached dangerous levels again. In 1935, he met Bill Wilson, a business man from New York who faced the same struggle for many years. Bill and Robert were an immediate match. Bill Wilson was not only an ex-alcoholic; he was a born-again Christian who had experienced a hot flash in November 1934 when in the hospital as a result of his drinking. With Bill Wilson as a witness, Robert Holbrook Smith drank his last alcohol (a glass of beer) on the 10th of June 1935. This is seen as the official start date for Alcoholics Anonymous. Smith and Wilson were both convinced that alcoholism could only be conquered by support groups. Furthermore, this could only work if people shared their fight anonymously. They set up a self help group in Ohio, after which Wilson returned to New York where he established another group. Due to the need for anonymity, they became known as Dr. Bob and Bill W. The name Alcoholics Anonymous emerged after a book with the title (Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men have Recovered from Alcoholism) was published in 1939 (known with the AA as "The Big Book"). In 1941, Alcoholics Anonymous received a boost after journalist Jack Alexander wrote about their existence in the Saturday Evening Post. Other articles were soon published; such as the article "Maybe I can do it too." It was a summary of an article that had appeared previously. The Reader's Digest version had a big impact as it appeared in several of the international editions of the magazine and generated a great deal of free publicity.

Alcoholics Anonymous is the best-known self help group, but is far from being the only one. Soon a wide variety of self help groups emerged. They covered topics related to health, mental health and social issues. These self help groups were a critique on the professionalism of caregivers, including social workers, and are related to the thinking of Ivan Illich (Disabling professions, 1977).

These publications were not the only ones to notice of the self help groups. There was support for self help groups from policy's such as the Alma Ata declaration of the World Health Organization in 1978, and their slogan 'health for all by the year 2000'. Social research took notice and supported self help with publications like "The strength in us (Katz, 1976) and Self-help in the human services (Gartner, 1977)

William Henry Beveridge (1942) - Most social work in western European countries (such as LaRochelle France, where my ancestry comes from) is currently delivered within the context of the welfare state, whose origins can be traced back to the work of Sir William Henry Beveridge at the time of World War II.

Beveridge was born in 1879 in India. He studied law at Oxford University where he became fascinated by early forms of social security, rapidly turning into an authority on pensions and unemployment benefits. At the beginning of the 20th century, he already had an impact on the development of a national insurance scheme and had influenced policy on poverty. Soon after World War I, he was knighted.

Beveridge's work influenced the Fabian Society, who liked his work and gave him the position of Director of the London School of Economics. During World War II, the Minister of Health commissioned a committee to investigate the social services and welfare benefits in the United Kingdom and Beveridge was invited to chair. In 1942, the Social Insurance and Allied Services was published and became known as 'the Beveridge report'. In 1944, a report entitled "Full Employment in a Free Society" was published, and both reports had far reaching consequences beyond what the government's initial intentions.

Beveridge's work labeled the main challenges for social policy as "the five giants": squalor, ignorance, want, idleness, and disease. Social insurance was one element that addressed these challenges. Equally important were education, health care, and housing and employment. (Likely things that I also find important, as social workers are active in all of these sectors.) Beveridge argued for the state to have a role in guaranteeing the resources for people's welfare, as well as being the provider of these services. Every citizen would contribute to this universal system through national insurance payments, set according to his or her financial capabilities, and would be able to make use of it according to his or her needs. The key to all of this was full employment.

In 1945, the Labor party won the elections and defeated Churchill. They announced their intention to build a welfare state based on contributions depending on your earnings, described by Beveridge. This results in the establishment of the National Health Service in 1948. Many politicians across the world spent time in London during World War II, and they were well aware of the Beveridge report. When peace was achieved, the ideas were exported. It can be said that Beveridge was the architect of world-wide models for the modern welfare state. Strategies for implementing the ideas in the Beveridge report were influenced by local politics and economic circumstances. Welfare systems across the world diverge from the original plans. Useful classifications of welfare states to describe this diversity have been made by Richard Titmuss (1974) and later by Gosta Esping-Andersens (1990).

Saul Alinsky (1946) - The founding father of community organizing - has achieved a higher profile than ever and a number of new books highlight his work, largely thanks to President Barack Obama mentioning him regularly as a source of inspiration. Obama is not alone in his admiration, Hillary Clinton wrote her senior thesis about Alinsky and United Kingdom's Prime Minister Cameron used his name to add theoretical weight to the idea of the "big society." So who exactly is Saul Alinsky, and what kind of inspiration does he have to offer?

Alinsky was born in 1909 in Chicago and grew up in a strict orthodox Jewish family, which implies focuses on study, work and religion. Chicago is also the city where Jane Addams established Hull House. That is not the only parallel in their work. Alinsky did not set out to become a social activist. He graduated in archaeology, but the Great Depression made it impossible to find a job in that field. As an alternative Alinsky became involved in community organizing in the slums of Chicago. His first involvement was a poor neighborhood next to a meat packing plant in the Union Stock Yards in the north of the city. Later, his work shifted towards the Woodlawn neighborhood south of the city. He became good at what he did. So good that he started traveling around the United States to support community organizing initiatives. In 1940, Alinsky established the Industrial Areas Foundation, a network of local faith or community based initiatives, which was an example for similar networks, such as the Pacific Institute for Community Organization launched by John Baumann in 1972. In 1946, Alinsky published his first manual for community organizers, "Reveille for radicals." This was complemented in 1971 by "Rules for radicals." Both have been reprinted numerous times.

Alinsky was rightly described as the founding father of community organizing, through his own actions and publications as well as through the inspiration he was for others. Community organizing was the way to improve living conditions, hence his expression: "to hell with charity. The only thing you get is what you are strong enough to get - so you had better organize." Alinsky always stressed community organization was about grass root activities, about offering the poor and powerless the tools to achieve social change. It was not about getting people to a certain goal, but about encouraging them and helping them to develop techniques to bring about changes themselves. Community organizing is about giving the poor and oppressed the power to speak, not about being their voice.

Alinsky will be remembered for the creativity in the actions he initiated, such as a rent strike against landlords of slums, a sit-in at the office of the mayor, a piss-in at O'Hare Airport (where all toilets would be permanently occupied until talks were opened) and a fart-in at a concert, for which participants would consume a large meal of baked beans in advance.

What an original guy!!

Eileen Younghusband (1947) - The importance for high standards in social work education -

She should not be confused with the World War II heroine with the same name. However, she is an important part of 20th century social work history. She was active during most of the formative decades of the welfare state, particularly through committee work and reports. Towards the end of her career she wrote a couple publications on the history of social work, which have been described as the history of British social services. She was modest about her contribution to the social work profession, but it was substantial and continues to inspire current practice. Growing up in Kent, United Kingdom and India, she entered the social work profession at the age of 22 in London. She moved on to settlement work. She studied sociology at London School of Economics, where her career developed as a staff member and initiator of generic social work course, which was launched in 1954 and quickly became an example for other social work training courses.

Eileen chaired many committees and was involved in many reports, several resulted in changes in social work. She worked for the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust and prepared reports on Employment and training social workers (1947) and Social work in Britain (1951). These are known as the Carnegie reports. It is here that she strongly advocated generic training for social work, built around core knowledge common to all social workers, whatever their specialization.

Younghusband chaired the Committee on social workers in local authority health and welfare services, which produced radical recommendations on social work education and training. The committee's report became known as the Younghusband report and was published in 1959. It led to the establishment in 1961 of the National Institute of Social Work (NISW), which inspired social work in the United Kingdom and internationally for four decades. In 2003, NISW was incorporated in the Social Care Institute of Excellence. (SCIE).

Eileen Younghusband was active at the international level, through the British Council and the United Nations, and from 1950 through the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW), as a board member and from 1961 onward as (honorary) president. She made it her task to promote high standards of social work education across the globe. She is still honored by the IASSW through the biennial Eileen Younghusband memorial lectures at the global IASSW conference.

Eileen Younghusband died at the age of 79 in a car accident on May 27, 1981 in Raleigh, North Carolina, while on a lecture tour in North America.

Carl Rogers (1951) - The importance of empathy - regarded as responsible for the earliest forms of humanistic psychology and person-centered therapy. The key principle of his approach is very simple: take people's accounts seriously because they are the basis for helping people to achieve self-actualization, by finding their true identity as a fully-functioning individual. Rogers was the first psychologists to talk about clients rather than patients, and he laid the foundation for a wide variety of non-directive techniques, based on reflective listening, known as 'mirroring.' (Mirroring, something we had to do in our interview video in the first two semesters of my social work program.)

Humanistic psychology developed by leading thinkers such as Abraham Maslow and Ronald Laing, has had substantial impact on models of psychotherapy, child development and education. It has left traces in all kinds of verbal therapy and child rearing practices, including writings of Benjamin Spock. Together with Maslow's work, Rogers' ideas have become the building blocks for the so called 'good life' of the human development movement.

Rogers' view on human development anticipated the counter cultural and radical political movements of the 60s and 70s. When authorities all across the Western world were challenged by citizens asserting their own individuality and claiming their rights as citizens. This is the context in which Carl Rogers' thinking became popular. In 1974 his colleague Abraham Maslow labeled his work 'revolutionary'. The euphoric optimism associated with Rogers' approach lasted until the end of the 70s, when the North American cultural historian Christopher Lasch set out some of the disadvantages of too much emphasis on personal growth and what was termed 'me-ism'. In his book The culture of narcissism (1979), Lasch criticized humanistic psychology as encouraging people to glorify themselves at the expense of concern and kindness for others. In the New Republic journal, he once argued that "as the founding father of humanistic psychology, the human potential movement, and the encounter group, Carl Rogers has a lot to answer for."

Rogers had formulated his thinking long before the 60s and 70s. He developed the core ideas and applications after he finished his training in psychology and started working with children. He distanced his work from traditional psycho-analysis and started to devise his own forms of therapy. Becoming a professor in 1940 allowed him to use his experience as a therapist to develop theories about what came to be known as person-centered humanistic practice. He published books such as Client Centered Therapy, its current practice, implications and theory (1951) and Psychotherapy and Personality Change (1954) are the most important published books.

The starting point for Carl Rogers was that people experience their lives as a subjective reality and develop a sense of 'self' through processes of self-evaluation, feedback and reflection. Successful 'self-realization' is achieved through the gradual establishment of a coherent self-image or identity. Rogers maintained that individuals have a strong need for positive feedback, especially during youth, but also during later stages in life. For a person to develop as a fully functioning individual, this feedback from significant others must be based on what he called 'unconditional positive regard', otherwise they may set up 'defense mechanisms' and harmful, even pathological, personality strategies. (Which is probably what I am doing since my divorce. But, at least, I am now more productive.) If this happens, person-centered therapy may offer the solution but for this to be effective, Rogers argued that the therapist must adopt three core principles. They should encourage the client to achieve congruence between their actual and ideal 'selves' by demonstrating unconditional positive regard and empathy for their situation and feelings.

Jane Jacobs (1961) - Urban visionary - had more influence than anyone else on our thinking about city life during the second half of the 20th century. A lack of any formal education in city planning or related subjects didn't constrain her influence. She moved to Greenwich Village, a neighborhood in Manhattan, New York, where she had to take several jobs to survive in the economic crisis. Periods of unemployment were filled with long walks through the city. During that time, her writing and sharp eye became noted. She married an architect and started writing for Architectural Forum. In this way, she developed a keen interest in cities and city life. Jacobs published her book in 1961, The death and life of great American cities. It was a protest against the plans of Robert Moses, the city architect of New York. He wanted to build huge traffic gateways through the inner city to give maximal freedom to car transport. Jacobs was furious about these plans, and argued that a city is not created on maps but grows like a living organism. Cities are like bodies, and streets are the arteries. Through her publications and protest actions, Jacobs together with many others succeeded in stopping the building of the Lower Manhattan Expressway. In 1968, Jacobs moved to Toronto as a protest against the war in Vietnam and to avoid military service for her sons. She stayed in Toronto until her death in 2006. The situation Jacobs found in Toronto wasn't that different to New York. Plans existed to build the huge Spadina Expressway, all the way through the center of town. Jacobs became one of the most visible activists against these plans, and again she and her companions succeeded in stopping the further planning and building of this expressway. In many cities across the Western world, acquiescence in the domination of car transport has gradually been replaced by an appreciation that other transport is equally relevant and car-free zones are a benefit for the city. Jacobs' role in this enlightenment was significant.

Several elements in Jacobs' vision on the city can be identified in our present day thinking. She argued that a mix of functions at the local level was key to the general attractiveness of a neighborhood. If functions become geographically separated, we get neighborhoods that are only partially used, such as places where people only come to sleep, places where people only shop, places that are only used during office hours. Jacobs argued that it was best to intermingle these functions in the same locality, stimulating continuous activity. Related to this Jacobs introduced the principle of eyes on the street. Encouraging plenty of people to use the city at different hours provides informal social control that enhances public safety. Robert Putnam, later used and expanded this notion in his work on social capital.

Another idea from Jane Jacobs which remains popular is that city development is not about destroying old buildings and constructing new ones, but about giving old buildings a fresh purpose. Numerous examples exist, such as Tate Modern in London, housed in an old power station. To commemorate Jane Jacobs, several cities have installed Jane's walks: city tours focus on the current life in neighborhoods, guided by citizens themselves. These give a view on the living city, not on the historical 'dead' city. They are also sometimes called urban safaris.

Erving Goffman (1961) - Total institutions

Erving Goffman, in the early 1960s, referred care homes, prisons and military encampments as total institutions. Goffman published several books that earned him a place in sociology. For social work, his most important work is from 1961: Asylums: essays on the social situation of mental patients and other inmates, which became popular and was translated in several languages. Several very different organizations have influenced the lives of citizens comprehensively. Normally, we sleep, work, shop, and organize our leisure time in separate locations. Total institutions, however, the life of inhabitants takes place 24 hours a day and 7 days a week within the same confined space. Examples, such as care homes, prisons, psychiatric hospitals, military encampments and convents. Often, but not always, there are physical barriers between these total institutions and the outside world, for instance with high walls or barbed wire. Each total institution has a clear distinction between inhabitants and staff. For the latter, the total institution is not total: they usually go home after working hours. Goffman was interested in describing how inhabitants experienced these total institutions. He went undercover for a year in one of the total institutions, posing as the assistant of the sports director. He avoided contact with staff, and only the people at the top of the organization know about this actual role as a researcher. The study was recognized as a fine example of qualitative research. Based on what he observed during this year, Goffman describes how the total institution moulds (new) inhabitants and disciplines them to follow the rules of the house. He labels this as mortification, whereby the civilian's connections to the outside world are slowly stripped away and redefined by the total institution. Anyone who has spent time in the hospital will recognize the experience: waking up, eating, washing....everything happens according to the rhythm set by hospital staff, leaving little or no room for individual preferences.

Goffman's analysis gained popularity not only through his publications, but also through the movie One flew over the cuckoo's nest, based on the novel by Ken Kesey. Jack Nicholson plays the role of psychiatric patient Randle McMurphy. After being admitted to a psychiatric hospital he rebels against the culture of total institutions and tries to engage his fellow patients in his revolt. Nurse Ratched is probably one of the most evil characters in film history.The aversion felt by the viewer since the sixties against total institution in the social realm (although perhaps surprisingly, not against total institutions in the field of justice).

Goffman's work and the role played by Jack Nicholson, together with other developments like Italian anti-psychiatry, resulted in a huge wave of deinstitutionalization. Large scale care institutions and long term care were replaced by care in (and where possible by) the community and shorter term care. However, there was and remains also a critique of deinstitutionalization arguing that people are released without proper support, resulting in higher levels of crime and homelessness.

John van Hengel & food banks/philanthrophy for the hungry (1967) - Throughout history, people have developed initiatives to ease the burden of hunger. Within Christian religion, feeding the hungry is the first of the Works of Mercy. Within Islam, the zakat is one of the five pillars and involves alms-giving for those who are able to. The 20th century was an era with large-scale food aid initiatives such as soup kitchens during the Great Depression and World War II, and global food aid for countries disrupted by war and drought.

In the decades after World War II the claim was put forward that hunger had been eradicated in Western countries. In the 60s, the influential research of Peter Townsend in the United Kingdom, his claim was shown to be unsustainable. Programs emerged, such as the food stamp program in the United States. Soup kitchens also continued to attract users. In Phoenix, Arizona, John van Hengel was dissatisfied with the limited efficiency and started looking for improvements. After meeing a single mother with 10 children who pointed out the amount of throwaway food available in grocery store dumpsters, he started collecting food that was still good for human consumption but no longer saleable by supermarkets. He founded the world's first food bank: St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance, in 1967. It not only helped to feed the hungry but also helped to solve the inexcusable waste of perfectly edible food by the commercial food industry. Worldwide, there is excessive food production, but also inefficient food distribution and hunger. Both could balance each other out. Van Hengel's food bank did not distribute food directly to the hungry, but worked through a network of decentralized distribution centers such as pantries and community centers. Similar initiatives emerged in other cities throughout the United States. In 1976 Van Hengel established Second Harvest to assist these local initiatives and facilitate the work of food banks. It later changed its name to Feeding America. By the time John Van Hengel died, American food banks daily provided food for about 23 million citizens. For the United Kingdom, it is estimated that currently half a million people rely on food banks.

Through the years, the idea of food banks spread across and beyond the United States. In 1984, the first European food bank was opened in France, followed by others such as Belgium in 1986 and the Netherlands in 2002.Food banks were not so much clearing houses to a decentralized network of distribution outlets, but rather direct contact points with hungry citizens. The same happened in France, where the comedian Coluche started the 'restaurants with a heart' in 1985. He learned that it cost warehouses more to stock surplus food than to distribute it for free to hungry people. Food banks also spread outside the United States and Europe to South Africa.

In the years following the global financial crisis of 2008, food banks have faced an ever increasing demand, raising fears that the supply would no longer be sufficient. The rise of food banks also resulted in discussions and concerns, related to the stigma associated with them, the reliability of this kind of support and more fundamentally, whether food banks represent a model of active and caring citizenship or a symbol of the collapse of the public safety net (or both).

Sherry Arnstein (1969) Ladder of participation - You do not have to be a social worker to have an impact on social work practice across the world. Although Sherry Arnstein worked briefly as a social worker in San Francisco, she originally studied physical education. She also was executive director of the American association of colleges of osteopathic medicine (an alternative medicine). Important for social work is the time she worked for the United States Department of health, education and welfare in the 1960s. In 1969, she published the article for which she is still remembered and respected: A ladder of citizen participation. Sherry Arnstein died in 1997.

Her article was written at the time she worked as director of community development studies for The Commons, a non-profit research institute. It builds heavily on her earlier experience as chief advisor on citizen participation for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. This all happened during the presidency of Lyndon Johnson and was influenced by his Model Cities program.

The article went on to describe a ladder of participation with eight rungs, each higher rung representing a greater degree of citizens power. To add emphasis to her point about symbolic rather than substantial citizen participation, the two lowest rungs on the ladder (manipulation and therapy) were together labeled non-participation. Even the next three rungs (informing, consultation and placation) were not about genuine participation, and therefore labeled degrees of tokenism. It is only when we reach the highest rungs of the ladder (partnership, delegated power and citizen control) that the label 'citizen power' is used.

Since Arnstein's publication, social sciences have highlighted time and again the problematic nonparticipation of citizens in democratic processes. An essential platform was provided in the work of Sidney Verba and Norman Nie. From this and similar studies, it becomes clear that low participation is not only a problem for those individual citizens who are not participating, but also problematic for society.

Arnstein's article originally appeared in the Journal of the American Institute of Planners but has been reprinted and translated many times. There are few publications on citizens' participation that do not make reference to her article. This not only resulted in many graphical enhancements of the original figure, but also suggestions for changes and improvements. Examples include: Roger Hart's ladder of youth participation, published in 1997 for UNICEF and Scott Davidson's wheel of participation (1998). Andreas Karsten even describes it as a potpourri of participation models.

Michael Lipsky (1969) Street level bureaucrats and discretionary power -

Some concepts keep reappearing in discussions and scholarly work on the social work profession. Two are street level bureaucracy and discretionary power. Michael Lipsky, a north American scholar struggled together with his fellow political scientists, with the question of how to quantify the impact of government on citizens. There was some concern about a problematic low impact due to weak implementation of policy decisions.

Lipsky's work in this area was foreshadowed by a presentation he held at the annual conference of the American political science association in 1969 in New York. This presentation and paper already incorporated the two key concepts of his work, which would become widespread after the book publication in 1980. Street-level bureaucracy, dilemmas of the individual in public services.

Lipsky's term the street level bureaucrat refers to all those government officials (and those from public services) who are in daily contact with citizens and have a relatively high impact on their lives. His main focus is on members of the police, teachers and lower court judges, but later expanded this to include social workers. These are the people that shape citizens' experience of government, who "represent government to the people". They are the business cards of government. They are not only the business cards: Lipsky also describes them as the real policy makers. Policy can be discussed and written down higher up in government structures, but it only becomes real through the work of street level bureaucrats and the way they translate policy into action. This refers to the second key concept of Lipsky's work: discretionary power. One of the characteristics of the work street level bureaucrats do is that they have a high level of autonomy, that they can decide the details of their job and are only subject to tailoring to a limited degree.

Lipsky, together with his PhD student Jeffrey Prottas, also argues that street-level bureaucrats develop routines, habitual ways of handling cases, which he describes as 'people-processing'. This idea has been subject to criticism and has also given rise to professional critiques of street-level bureaucracy. Many were inspired by Lipsky's work and applied his concepts in their practice. Scholarly social work publications are rich with references to Lipsky.

With the increased use of information technology in government and public services, scholars have argued that there is a transition from street level bureaucracy to screen level bureaucracy, encompassing a reduction in the discretionary power of professionals. An example can be seen in public libraries. Whereas previously, if you returned a book that was overdue, you might forego the fine at the librarian's discretion, perhaps if you were recognized as a frequent and reliable borrower.

Recently, Tony Evans researched how street level bureaucracy developed in the British social work context and the influence of new public management. Contrary to Lipsky's observation in the United States some forty years earlier, Evans found that often local managers and practitioners shared a professional culture and worked in partnership to defend discretionary power and professional values. He also argues that information technology in social work is like any other management strategy, limited in its capacity to constrain discretion.

Paulo Freire (1970) Pedagogy of the oppressed - The key ideas of Paulo Freire (1921-1997) are mostly explained in his well-known book Pedagogy of the Oppressed. This was originally published in 1968 (in Portuguese, in 1970 first English translation) but has been reprinted and translated numerous times and has become a source of inspiration for social workers throughout the world. Freire was committed to giving a voice to the poor and his ideas on education were intended to make people politically aware. His methods, using critical dialogue and consciousness-raising are not only applicable in his country of origin (Brazil) but widely used by a whole generation of social workers working in deprived neighbourhoods across poor and rich countries alike.

Freire developed his thinking during a long career teaching Portuguese in secondary schools and literacy campaigns. Later, he was appointed as the director of the Department of Education and Culture of the Social Service in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco. It was here that he started working with illiterate poor people. His results were so impressive that he was invited to become director of the national literacy programme. He set out to establish 20,000 cultural learning circles throughout Brazil, for which he planned to import 35,000 slide projectors from Poland. Unfortunately, after a military coup in April 1964, Freire had to flee from Brazil, following a short period of imprisonment as a traitor. He moved to Bolivia and Chile, working for the United Nations before being offered a visiting professorship at Harvard University in 1969.

Paulo Freire was highly critical of traditional formal models of education, which he argued made people dependant in much the same way as a commercial bank does. Students are treated as if they were empty bank accounts, in which the teacher can make deposits. Under this `banking concept` of education, "knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing". This results in a dichotomy between teacher and students: the teacher talks and the students listen. As a consequence, both are dehumanized. Freire’s analysis of traditional education is similar to the critique developed by Ivan Illich in his book, "Deschooling Society" (1971).

Freire asserted that education can never be neutral. Either it is an instrument for liberating people or it is used to dominate and disempower them. To avoid being a tool of oppression, education needs to involve a new relationship between teacher and students as well as with society. The difference is not to be found in the curriculum contents or the enthusiasm of the teacher, but in the educational approach. He found that people were more motivated to learn how to read and write if the experience gave them insight into the power networks to which they are subjected. Freire urged teachers to identify and use key political words, which he labeled as `generative themes` because they generated discussion.

A key concept in Freire`s approach is conscientization, meaning the ways in which individuals and communities develop a critical understanding of their social reality through reflection and action. This involves examining and acting on the root causes of oppression as experienced in the here and now. This goes beyond simply acquiring the technical skills of reading and writing. It is a cornerstone to ending the culture of silence, in which oppression is not mentioned and thereby maintained.

In what he referred to as the `archaeology of consciousness`, Freire identified three different levels of political awareness: magical consciousness, naïve consciousness and critical consciousness. It was the role of the educator to foster a process of dialogue and liberation that would enable citizens to reach critical consciousness. It is here that we see a clear link between Freire`s work and the concept so central to social work: empowerment.

Joel Fischer (1973) The father of professional skepticism - Fischer published a paper in Social Work, the journal of the United States' National Association of Social Workers. After the establishment of social work education, Fischer asked if there was any indication of the effectiveness of social casework. Are the intended objectives achievable? Fischer argued that social work should not be satisfied with good intentions, but should look critically into the effects of its actions. "The issue of effectiveness of practice always must be of paramount concern to the profession and cannot be brushed aside." Fischer's article sparked much debate in the issues of social work, and other scholarly social work journals, that it is probably one of the most reprinted in all of social work literature. The article and the ensuing debate can be seen as the start of professional skepticism, in terms of critical reflection and as a healthy basis of scrutinizing one's work. Fischer published manuals on how to integrate science and social work. His "Evaluating practice" received its sixth edition in 2009. It focuses on the use of single-system designs to evaluate social work practice. Fischer's optimism for converging science and social work was infectious.

Social work has followed the example of medicine and now invests in evidence based practice. Much has been written on the subject, such as the Social Care Institute of Excellence and the Campbell Collaboration make it a core part of their role to contribute to the scientific grounding of social work.

Fundamental Principles of Disability (1975) - For many centuries, citizens with an impairment were hardly granted a place in society. They were left on their own or killed immediately after being born. During the Ancient Rome, it was a legal requirement to eliminate babies with impairments. Aristotle wrote that deaf people could not think, as they had no language. Little progress was made during this time. Children with impairments were considered to come from the devil.

During the 18th century, this pessimism about people with impairments began to change. The French author Denis Diderot wrote letters about the possibilities of deaf and blind people. (Isn't that weird, my father just got a hearing aid, and has to have shots once a month in each eye to prevent his going blind, and his first name is Denis. Yes, it is spelled the same way.) The First schools for deaf children was established in 1760, with the aid of wooden letters and numbers blind children could communicate, and that being blind does not equal being dumb. All marked the transition towards optimism about what children with impairments could learn and achieve.

Further development in thinking about disability and impairments occurred in the 60s and 70s, with the publication of the British Fundamental Principles of Disability in 1975. This document explicitly declared that "it is society which disables physically impaired people". It introduced the subtle but crucial distinction between an impairment (a bodily function that does not operate as one would expect) and a disability (the difficulties caused by society to a person with an impairment).

One of these developments was the term 'social model', to distinguish from the medical model. The medical model helped focus on the individual and his or her impairments. The Social model helped focus on society and accessibility. Whether a person has a mobility impairment or not is a consequence of bad luck or health care; but whether the mobility impairment prevents that person from participating (going to school, taking the train,...) is up to society.

This led to the focus on universal access or design for all in buildings and product design. It was for example included in the famous section 508 of the United States Rehabilitation Act (1973) which obliged all parts of government to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with impairments. The key element is to make available to people with impairments "patterns of life and conditions of everyday living which are as close as possible to the regular circumstances and ways of life or society." This change of thinking about disability and people with impairments came to an end when the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted in 2006.

Radical social work (1975) Refocusing social work, seeing more than the individual - After World War II the welfare state, according to Beveridge's plans was established. Not only social security and in-cash aid expanded, but also the personal social services blossomed. There were many social work job opportunities and social work education grew extensively.

The social work practice was influenced by the work of Mary Richmond, and the social casework method, as well as psychotherapy. However, by the 70s, social work was under a lot of criticism from the political right about lack of effectiveness, on the political left, concern grew about the effects this approach to social work had. Social problems became individualized and the causes behind somebody's problems disappeared out of view.

However, in 1975 radical social work gained some wider recognition. Roy Bailey and Mike Brake published and edited a book entitled, "Radical social work," heavily criticizing traditional social work (and social work education) for being a-political. In 1980, the first book was complimented by Radical social work and practice. Both were well received within the social work community and gave radical social work not only an increased acknowledgement, but some academic status. Roy Bailey later became known as a folk singer.

During the 80s and 90s little was heard about radical social work, it re-emerged through the work of Iain Ferguson and Michael Lavalette and the Social Work Action Network. This new interest resulted in an updated manifesto and a new journal: "Critical and Radical Social Work." Radical social work is closely related to or the same as critical social work or structural social work. One could also say that policy practice is a segment of radical social work.

Ann Hartman (1978) Family therapy, ecomaps and genograms - started her career in 1959 as a caseworker for the Summit County Child Welfare Board in Ohio. After receiving her masters degree in social work, she moved on to work in mental health and family services in the New York area. Once she received her doctorate, she started working as a social work researcher and educator at the University of Michigan. Again, she became involved with family social work through the Ann Arbor Center for the Family and the National Child Welfare Training Center. Then, she moved on to the School of Social Work at the Smith College in Massachusetts.

Hartman made two contributions to social work that still influence today's practice. Her first contribution to social work was the introduction of the ecomap (often called an ecogram) and the genogram, which were simple drawing techniques that enable social workers to depict social and family relationships. Both can be used for assessment, planning and intervention. They can be used by the social worker only, or as an aid in an interview with clients. Hartman stressed the visual power of the tool: "The connections, the themes, and the quality of the family's life seem to jump off the page and this leads to a more holistic and integrative perception." Later the genograms were expanded by others by using them to visualize intergenerational family relationships. (Guess one can say that immediate family trees can be a part of social work.)

The second major contribution that Hartman made to social work can be labeled ecological social work and follows from the ecomaps and genogram. The focus of clinical practice should not be solely on the client but should also include his or her social network. One goal for the social worker is to tease out what the social network can contribute to the client in terms of caring and support. Doing so, one can grow beyond the traditional approach where interventions are oriented on individuals. Given the demographic changes of recent decades, it is no surprise that Ann Hartman's original focus on family relations has been expanded to other social relations. Family has become less important in many people's lives. (Not by choice, sometimes it is just chosen for you.)

Charles Murray (1984) A critique on social work and the welfare state - An overview of the history of social work not only sheds lights on the persons and facts that strengthened social work, but also on those that weakened it by voicing fundamental critique. One of them is Charles Murray.

Charles Murray was born in 1943 in the State of Iowa. Thanks to his excellent school results he studied history at Harvard University, after he went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his PhD in political science. Later, he participated in a peace mission in Thailand for six years. He worked for the American Institute for Research (1974-1981), followed by the Manhattan Institute (1981-1990) and since at the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute.

In 1984 Murray published his most famous book, "Losing ground" in which he analysed the social policy of the USA in the period from 1950 to 1980, a time when across the world welfare states emerged and blossomed. How can it be, asked Murray, that we give ever more money to fighting poverty and there still is an increasing amount of poverty? How can we explain this paradox?

Apparently, Murray believed that high benefits with less requirements made it more attractive for the younger generation to rely on the welfare state than to look for work and earn their own income. (In this scenario though, what are they really teaching their children. This is very disappointing.) By not penalizing the behavior that led to poverty; social work and the welfare state became one of the causes of poverty. The safety net had become a hammock.

Murray's book, "Losing ground," resulted in fame and gave others of the welfare state more arguments. Ten years later Murray became more famous by publishing, "The bell curve," with Richard Hernstein. Their key message was that social inequality was genetically determined and racially influenced. This caused fierce criticism. (I disagree with this, if it were genetically determined, then how did genetics create the famous connections in my family tree? The genetics of Mathurin Roy and Marguerite Bire Roy?)

Social work and computers (1985) - Social work had the reputation of being averse of technology. However, with each new invention, the profession has been given considerations to the challenges and opportunities that were created. Starting with the early 20th century when the telephone became available, and it became used as a tool in crisis intervention and counselling. The same happened near the end of the century when the personal computer became popular and social workers around the globe started wondering what the implications would and could be for their daily work.

By the end of the 20th century, technology and its relation to social work had changed. Technology was user-friendly, cheaper and internet became available at home. The relation between technology and social work changed in two ways: 1) There were the worries that private ownership of a computer and at home internet access would be the base for new social inequalities. Public libraries and community technology centers tried to remedy this. 2) There was focus on what citizens would do with all of this technology at home in terms of neighborhood websites and communities interest. Now, computers can be found everywhere. Not just for office tasks, but also for online counseling, maintaining client records, and furthering your education. (So much easier than a typewriter.)

Robert Putnam (1995) - Social capital as an active ingredient of social welfare - Robert Putnam (1941) was a political scientist and professor at Harvard University. Although he did not invent the concept of social capital, his work made the concept gain wide recognition in the social work profession.

Three arguments developed from Putnam's article, as well as his book. 1) He introduced social capital as an ingredient of trust, the quality of our society. Involving social networks, and the involvement between people and towards society. Social capital is critical for economic prosperity. This reverses the traditional thinking: "social well-being is not the result of economic growth, but the basis for it." Furthermore, bonding social capital indicates belonging to a group, and having social contacts. Bridging social capital involves having social contacts across group borders, between ethnic groups, and linking social capital involves participation in society. Research indicates social capital is unevenly distributed in society.

Putnam argues that social capital is important because it contributes to public safety, better health and increase levels of care. Social capital has been on the decline for several decades. Putnam believed that the erosion of social capital is reason for worry, and should result in investments in its renewal. Ways of doing this can be found in Putnam's recent book, "Better together."

Social capital has invaded the social work profession and renewed interest in social networks and their effects on support and quality of life for both individuals and communities, such as improving the situation of a person or neighborhood, new social contacts with others groups are preferred above contacts with similar people or neighborhoods. Social capital seems to go hand in hand with social improvement. The concept also fits nicely within the ecological tradition in social work and the person-in-environment approach.

Theodore Dalrymple (2001) How the welfare state maintains the underclass - Theodore Dalrymple (1949) is the pseudonym of Anthony M. Daniels, a retired British psychiatrist who worked in some African countries as well as in British prisons and hospitals. He became known with his 2001 book: "Life at the bottom: the worldview that makes the underclass." His experiences with patients, a lot of whom came from poor neighbourhoods, resulted in his vicious attack on Western welfare states. According to Dalrymple, the most important social problems in Western countries like criminality, drug abuse, aggressive youth culture, hooliganism … are the result of self-destructive behaviour of people who do not know how to live their lives. The political left has always tolerated this behaviour by pointing at structural causes to social problems and poverty, by focusing on other reasons than individual reasons to social needs. Drug abuse does not lead to criminality, but the reverse. Criminality is much more the cause than the result.

Dalrymple’s ideas are controversial to those that emerged and dominated social work in the last decades of the 20th century. That generation was full of understanding, good intentions and identification with the citizens in need. Harshness and repression were not done. Dalrymple now turns these attitudes into submissiveness and indifference. For many social workers this may be a culture shock, but those who compare these views with those of Octavia Hill's a century earlier will see many similarities. The statement “it’s not the housing that needs to improve, but the housing habits of poor citizens through education” comes from Octavia Hill, but could as easily have been from Dalrymple. In the views of the pioneering social workers, poverty was often the result of poor choices, wrong habits and thus personal responsibility. Hence, they argued, people should be helped to change their lifestyle and get rid of their bad habits.

Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa

Most Influential Social Workers

Most Influential Social Workers

1. Mother Teresa

We all have heard of her. She was a Roman Catholic nun. Pope John Paul II gave her the title of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta in the 1970s. She was well-known internationally for her humanitarian work and advocacy for the rights of the poor and helpless.

2. Annie Besant

She was the first woman president of Indian National Congress. She was famous as a social worker, educationalist, journalist, social reformer, political leader, women's right activist, writer and orator. She fought for the Human Rights of Indian Women.

3. Mahatma Gandhi

The Gandhian way of education had much emphasis on the development of body, mind, heart and soul. This education was a beautiful blend of craft, art, health and education of the individual until death. This education was more for girls than for boys. He was the devotee of non-violence.

4. Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda was the living embodiment of sacrifice and dedicated his life to the country and yearned for the progress of the poor and the helpless.

5. Nelson Mandela

He served as President of South Africa from 1994 - 1999. The first to be elected in a fully democratic election. Mandela spent some time in prison, after his release, Mandela led his party in negotiations that led to multi-racial democracy in 1994. He introduced policies aimed at combating poverty and inequality in South Africa.

Samuel Jackson
Samuel Jackson
Martin Short
Martin Short

Surprise social workers

Social Workers that made it big

Reality TV Show "Save My Son" star Dr. Steven Perry received his Masters in Social Work in the 90s, and founed a program called ConCAP which was a successful collegiate awareness program, in which they sent 100% of its first generation graduates from low-income homes to four-year colleges. Dr. Perry has made a name for himself as an educator, therapist, motivational speaker, and author and columnist for Essence Magazine.

Award Winning Writer and Poet, Alice Walker worked as a Social Worker, teacher, and lecturer during the Civil Rights Movement, fighting for racial injustices. Alice Walker is famous for writing The Color Purple which was brought to the silver screen starring Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover. She was also awarded a Pulitzer Prize for writing this fictional novel.

Award winning actor Samuel L. Jackson, who is known for roles in Pulp Fiction, Jungle Fever, Time to Kill, and as Nick Fury in the Marvel's Avengers film franchise, worked as a social worker for 2 years in Los Angeles. During his youth, Jackson was active in the black power movement.

John Amos, who is most famous for playing James on "Good Times" used his football scholarship to get his education as a social worker, which he used to work with the black community. Amos then got the acting bug and his break-out role where he played the weather man on the Mary Tyler-Moore show in the 70s. Mr. Amos won an Emmy Award for his portrayal of Kunta Kinte in the mini-series "Roots."

Comedian and actor, Martin Short, before he started entertaining people he earned a degree in social work. He worked as a part-time social worker in Toronto, while building his career in comedy.

Two others obtained their degrees in Social Work, but did not work as a social worker. These two people are Money Guru Suze Orman, who currently works for her first financial role Merrill Lynch. The other is long time beau of Oprah Winfrey, Stedman Graham.

Ian Somerhalder
Ian Somerhalder

Top 7 Undercover Celebrity Social Workers

The most charitable celebrities that can also be seen as undercover social workers.

Ian Somerhalder from The Vampire Diaries. He established the Ian Somerhalder Foundation and aims to educate individuals in protecting and taking care of the environment as well as the animals. Ian is very much an animal lover. He also supports the "It Gets Better Project" that helps prevent suicides among the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.

Angelina Jolie is well known in supporting causes and empowering communities. She was the first celebrity to start the trend in adopting children. We all know her as the Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, helps UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, Kids in Need of Defense, the ONE Campaign and the Afghanistan Relief Organization. She has also established the Jolie-Pitt Foundation. There is no end to the influence that she can reach.

Scarlett Johannson is well known on "The Avengers" but she is also a firm supporter of charity organizations. She contributes her time and money to USA Harvest, Make Poverty History, Not On Our Watch, World Aids Day, Oxfam and RED.

Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan-Tatum They raised millions of dollars for the Rainforest Foundation at a charity concert.

Bono, the lead singer of Ireland's most popular bands is a big name in the world of charity. He is very involved in raising awareness and fighting poverty and hunger. He supports charities such as the ONE Campaign, Amnesty Internation, UNICEF and RED.

Taylor Swift was named the most charitable celebrity of 2012. She enjoys contributing to change.

Justin Bieber sets a great example of getting involved in charities as a celebrity. Pencils of Promise is a campaign receiving a lot of Justin's attention, as well as his Believe Charity Drive, which raises money from album sales. These charities include: City of Hope, Make A Wish Foundation, Boys and Girls Club of America, Musicians on Call, GRAMMY Foundation, Project Medishare for Haiti, and Pencils of Promise. Justin Bieber's humble attitude and belief in change shows that one person really can make a difference.

Ellen DeGeneres, and her recent win of the Humanitarian Award. DeGeneres learned about an organization called "The Gentle Barn," which is a home and hospital for animals that have been abused. With, actor Ben Affleck, DeGeneres launched the "Small Change Campaign," to benefit Feeding America. Ellen also supported the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund through the American Red Cross. DeGeneres supports many other charities, as I am sure there are many, MANY other celebrities that have favorite charities that they make donations to. These are but a few of the amazing people that I have read about.

In conclusion

There are many people that have been or get involved in social work in some way or another. All have their own views. Some may just want to give something back. Some have had other careers that can be seen as a part of social work. Journalism. Author. Depending on the topics of the literature. Lawyer. Politician. All of this just reiterates in my previous article of what you can do with a degree in social work.

I also have lots of personal experience to add myself. Epilepsy. Elderly parents. Poverty. Pet Abuse. Substance Abuse. Disability Discrimination. Health Care. Education. If I haven't experienced it, I am related to someone that has, and in helping them, I can help someone else.

If you read up to here, "thanks for reading." I know this is lengthy. Be a change in the world.


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