A sociological study of the social work profession with special reference to social work education
Earlier work by Leonard (1966) and Heraud (1970) in formulating a holistic, comprehensive sociology of social work has been largely overtaken by developments both in sociology and in social work. Current sociological analyses of social work exhibit two distinctive features. First, relative detachment from major recent theoretical and empirical developments in mainstream sociology : second, a tendency to focus not upon the profession as a whole but upon specific, delineated aspects e:g the relation of theory to practice, professionalisation, social work education, professional socialisation, moral-political dimensions of social work, organisational and service-delivery issues, and the relation of social work to the welfare state. This research is addressed to the task of constructing a sociology of social work which draws explicitly upon recent developments in sociology, and which is concerned with the social work profession as a whole including the various components referred to above. These components are shown to collectively comprise the following three perennial and contemporary social work concerns which are empirically inter-related : the relationship of theory to practice, the politics of social work, and professional-organisational aspects including service-delivery issues. Particular though not exclusive attention is accorded to the relative 'centrality' of social work education : the research demonstrates social work education both influences and reflects wider developments throughout the profession and is a key empirical 'site of entry' for achieving a holistic sociological understanding of the social work profession. Much of the material necessarily is concerned with substantive issues in social work per se, but a vital part of the research is critical analysis of controversies surrounding paradigmatically diverse resources available within modern sociology for constructing a theoretically as well as empirically informed sociology of social work.