History of Social Work in the United Kingdom

Caroline Skehill

in Social Work

ISBN: 9780195389678
Published online February 2010 | | DOI:
History of Social Work in the United Kingdom

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This entry provides an overview of social work in the United Kingdom, which refers to Great Britain (England, Wales, and Scotland) and Northern Ireland. (The more accurate historical name for the United Kingdom is Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but generally this is abbreviated to the United Kingdom or sometimes just to England.) The complex history of the two islands makes it difficult to provide a general overview of social work in the United Kingdom per se. A complex set of relations marked the individual countries’ histories over a number of centuries and is explained in the more detailed histories of the jurisdictions in other entries. In terms of the modern history, from 1800 the four countries England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland were unified. After the war of independence and subsequent civil war in Ireland between 1919 and 1921, twenty-six counties of Ireland became a free state, and six—Northern Ireland—remained part of the United Kingdom. The history of social work spans over 150 years, though the period covered in this entry is roughly 1870 to 1980. Each section of this entry has a mixture of retrospective histories written in the present or the recent past and samples of important resources from different periods that reflect the nature of social work at particular moments in time. Where possible, major policy documents and archival sources are also cited. A complex set of relations marked the individual countries’ histories over a number of centuries. In terms of the history of social work, practice in the United Kingdom shares many common features in terms of models of practice, development of the profession, dominant theories, legislation and policy, and training approaches. The vast majority of literature on which an understanding of United Kingdom social work is built within national and international contexts derives from histories relating to Great Britain or England. The diversity of history within the broader United Kingdom is highlighted in this general entry and in the more specific entries on Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Article.  11287 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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