Journal Article

‘Living for the Brethren’: Idealism, Social Work's Lost Enlightenment Strain

Ken Moffatt and Allan Irving

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 32, issue 4, pages 415-427
Published in print June 2002 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online June 2002 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/32.4.415
‘Living for the Brethren’: Idealism, Social Work's Lost Enlightenment Strain

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In this article we define British idealism, a thread of Enlightenment thought. We draw upon historical British writings and Canadian archival material to reveal key concepts central to idealism and social work. The article begins by discussing social responsibility based on the idealist premise of Christian immanence. We then discuss the spiritual rationality of the new liberalism. The thought of E.J. Urwick, a key philosopher of British and Canadian social work, illustrates that both British and Platonic idealism continued to influence the field of modern social work. The concepts of engaged participation and reciprocity are congruent with Christian immanence and spiritual rationality. We argue that social work can benefit from recovering its lost pasts such as idealism as an aid in prefiguring an uncertain future.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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