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Is Social Work a profession?

It is fair to say that a social worker’s favourite word is ‘professional’ or derivatives thereof. At a case conference I attended recently with a client, the word was bandied about as if it was well accepted in society that social worker’s were ‘professionals’. This notion of social workers as ‘professionals’ didn’t sit well with what I had just witnessed, so it got me thinking about what the academic, peer reviewed discourse said.

This question is not new and is the subject of a seminal journal article by Abraham Flexner from 1915 1

I wont spoil the article for you but it is fair to say that the perspective taken by Flexner whilst academically respected, was written almost a 100 years ago and is due for a modern day revamp using modern language and currently accepted methodologies. Any takers?

1   Flexner, A. (1915). Is social work a profession? In National Conference of Charities and Corrections, Proceedings of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections at the Forty-second annual session held in Baltimore, Maryland, May 12-19, 1915 pp581, 584-588, 590, Chicago: Hildmann reprinted in Research on Social Work Practice, Vol. 11 No. 2, March 2001 152-165.

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