|Q. Origin of Social Work|
Origin of Social Work
In the West, when Constantine I legalized the Christian Church, the newly legitimised church set up poorhouses, homes for the aged, hospitals, and orphanages. As there was no effective bureaucracy below city government that was capable of charitable activities, the clergy served this role in the west up through the 18th century.
During the Middle Ages, the Christian church had vast influence on European society and charity was considered to be a responsibility and a sign of one’s piety. The practice and profession of social work has a relatively modern (19th century) and scientific origin.
Social work, as a profession, originated in the 19th century. The movement began primarily in the United States and England. This system of laws sorted the poor into different categories, such as the able bodied poor, the impotent poor, and the idle poor. This led to many social problems, which in turn led to an increase in social activism. In America, the various approaches to social work led to a fundamental question – is social work a profession? This debate can be traced back to the early 20th century debate between Mary Richmond's Charity Organization Society (COS) and Jane Addams's Settlement House Movement. Even as many schools of social work opened and formalized processes for social work began to be developed, the question lingered. This led to the professionalization of social work, concentrating on case work and the scientific method.
Following European settlement of northern America, the only social welfare was in the area of public health. When epidemics occurred, quarantine facilities were built to prevent contamination. As populations grew, Almhouses were built to house vulnerable people with no other support, including people with a long term illness or older people without families. In 1736 New York opened the Poor House of the City of New York (later renamed Bellevue Hospital) and in 1737 New Orleans opened the Saint John's Hospital to serve the poor of the city.
Modern social work in America has its roots in the mass migrations of the 19th century. The house was both a community service centre and a social research program. Precursors to modern social work arose in Blackwell's infirmary and in Hull House as health professionals began to work with social determinants of poor health.
The first professional social worker to be hired in the United States was Garnet Pelton, in 1905 at the Massachusetts General Hospital. The economic, social, family and psychological conditions that underpinned many of the conditions that patients presented with were recognized for the first time. Social workers would work in a complementary relationship with doctors, the former concentrating on physiological health, and the latter on social health. In addition to this, he saw that social work could improve medicine by providing a critical perspective on it while working alongside it in an organizational setting.
This approach soon spread through other American hospitals, and in 1911, there were 44 social work departments in 14 different cities. Two years later, the number of social work departments had grown to 200.
Social work as a profession in Australia developed later than in England or America, with the first professional social workers being hired in the 1920s. Social work training began in Australia in 1940 at the University of Sydney. Most high level training and theory was imported from abroad until the 1980s. Since the 1990s, Australian social work has increasingly affiliated itself with Pacific Islander and New Zealand approaches.
Social Work has been a mostly public sector or not-for-profit sector profession in Australia, with private practice being rare. Since the 1990s, other reactions to managerial control of social work have followed theories of feminism, ecological sustainability and critical theories.
The growth of social work in England as a discipline had similar parallels to the American experience of mass migration and social upheaval. The Industrial Revolution was a major cause of these changes, as social and economic conditions changed, resulting in the massive growth of cities. The first social workers were called hospital almoners, and were based in medical institutions. The Royal Free Hospital hired Mary Stewart as the first almoner in 1895. The role soon developed to cover the provision of other social programs, and by 1905 other hospitals had created similar roles.