Reconsidering the Importance of Historical Context to Social Justice and the Social Work Profession

Heather Sloane, Kasandra David, Josh Davies, Danielle Stamper & Sarah Woodward | September 22 | 9:00 - 10:00 AM | Room 3010A

Mainstream social work education takes pride in a radical past, but rarely links this past to current day social work practice in a critical way. This paper will look at social work’s focus on becoming a legitimate profession in answer to Abraham Flexner’s claim that social work was not a profession in the early 1900s. The following social work concerns will be investigated through a cultural history lens: settlement house systems, abortion, xenophobia, and discrimination directed toward the disability community. Looking back at these social justice concerns over time is helpful in giving much needed historic context to macro social work practice today. Panel participants found it helpful to look at the strengths and the challenges of social work practice over time as a way to thoughtfully approach social justice action today. Historical context helps social work remember that the struggle for freedom is an ongoing one.

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