Positioning Social Work in a Socially Sensitive Society

H. van Ewijk

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As a practitioner, a manager and a scientist in social work for 40 years, I am still intrigued by the social work positioning and legitimating processes. Its recognition by users and financiers is often diffuse and its fragmentation sometimes hinders effective interventions. In social work itself, we see a range of positioning processes, most of them either legitimating social work as a promoter of social justice, a supporter of emancipation and anti-oppressive practice, or positioning social work as a therapeutic approach, treating people with socio-psychological and psychiatric disorders. Social work is often promoted as a ‘real’ profession, in need of formal recognition and in need of a precise profile. In this article it will be argued that the core of social work is about supporting people in their social functioning and should position itself in the centre of the post-modern quest: the social-psychological disorientation, the lack of meaning, and the problems of isolation and exclusion. Modern professionalism is not about demarcating and regulating but much more about ‘Entgrenzung’ and openness.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Work & Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010

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