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Social work, politics and societyFrom radicalism to orthodoxy$
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Kenneth McLaughlin

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9781847420459

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847420459.001.0001

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Understandings of and developments within social work

Understandings of and developments within social work

(p.1) One Understandings of and developments within social work
Social work, politics and society

Kenneth McLaughlin

Policy Press

This chapter details the history of social work in the United Kingdom, from its origins in the Poor Laws of the seventeenth century and the charitable organisations of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, to the development of social work through to the mid-twentieth century. The incorporation of the ‘psy’ disciplines of psychiatry, psychology and psychoanalysis into social work theory and practice not only provides insight into the development of the profession, but is useful in that the criticisms levelled against this incorporation appear relatively muted today, when arguably the ‘psy-complex’ is more pronounced. In Britain, the Protestant Reformation, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment were factors in the development of social welfare. The move towards the feminisation of social work is important. This chapter also traces the history of social work to movements such as Chartism, the rise of trade unionism and class conflict, along with charity and philanthropy, Fabianism and welfarism.

Keywords:   United Kingdom, social work, history, Poor Laws, psychiatry, psychology, psychoanalysis, charity, philanthropy, Fabianism

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