Professionalization

As I was sipping my coffee this morning, reading my way through my Google reader, I was happy to see so many stories on International Women’s Day. Granted, my Google reader is stacked with feminist bloggers and organizations working to end gender based violence so it was bound to be that way. Inevitably, many of the stories surround the issue of gender based violence. I started noticing the different methods of addressing gender based violence–service provision or macro-level change. These are not mutually exclusive nor all inclusive. Just two areas on a continuum.

Many of the service provision stories come out of the United States whereas macro-level stories tend to come from abroad. This seems to be a common theme around issues of social change. I’m taking a social welfare history class right now. We are currently discussing the professionalization of social work. It’s something my cohort has been discussing for the last year and half.  What did social work lose by choosing professionalization?

In the U.S., professionalization has moved social work through social reform to social work through social service. I think the definition of social work as social service provision has narrowed the field–in thought, in action, and in development of social workers. We have plenty of micro-practitioners interested in providing individual service and a dearth of macro thinkers to develop innovative ideas for social change. I’m not saying we don’t need both because I truly believe micro-practitioners are important to social work practice. However, I’d love to see a lot more focus on macro level changes. More social workers interested in what is now considered radical practice.

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