The beginnings of social work to its 1970s zenith

Steve Rogowski

in Social work

Published by Policy Press

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9781847424488
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303527 | DOI:
The beginnings of social work to its 1970s zenith

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This chapter traces the beginnings of social work in Britain to its 1970s peak, focusing on the prevailing political, economic, social, and ideological situation that was initially dominated by liberalism. Social work's roots lie in the socioeconomic changes of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but various pioneers were influential in its early development, including the Charity Organisation Society. The first half of the twentieth century saw advances in terms of social legislation, such as in the areas of housing and secondary education. However, apart from such advances as the establishment of the mental-health social work course at the London School of Economics in the late 1920s, developments in social work slowed down. It was during the 1940s that things picked up and the value of trained social-work staff became more accepted, these including almoners in hospitals, psychiatric social workers, and childcare and family caseworkers. Importantly, the welfare state was established and the social-democratic consensus took hold. This period also witnessed the growing influence and professionalisation of social work.

Keywords: Charity Organisation Society; social work; Britain; liberalism; social legislation; housing; secondary education; welfare state; professionalisation; LSE

Chapter.  9691 words. 

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