Discuss the Profession of Social Work in United States.
In the United States, the profession of social work originated in volunteer experiments in social betterment’ during the late nineteenth century. By the turn of the century, charity was rapidly becoming an occupation devoted to individual service and social action. Social work, as the new profession came to be called, promoted the development of social welfare measures at the state and federal levels during the Progressive Era. Ironically, social work prospered as social welfare became an accepted part of government during and after the 1930s, but the profession’s influence on the evolving American welfare state waned.
Movements for reforming the poor, rescuing children, restoring community in large cities and restructuring state charitable and correctional agencies resulted in the .creation of the profession of social work. The State Boards of Charities and Correction, child saving organizations, charity organization societies, and settlement houses of the late 19th century provided formative experiences for the first generation of social workers. Initially conceived as philanthropic associations, created, directed, and staffed by volunteers, these organizations attempted to replace presumably haphazard methods of administering assistance to the poor with systematic and organized, but humane, methods. The early leaders called this rationalized approach scientific philanthropy and consciously imitated the forms and methods of the emerging business corporations.
By the 1890s, many of these organizations began to add paid staff members, reflecting the increasingly technical nature of their work. As reformers learned more about the problems of the poor, they began to view environmental influences as significant causes of poverty. Influencing industrial and, state policy in the increasingly urban and industrial nation became an important focus of the emerging profession. The Social Gospel movement in American Protestantism, which emphasized the Christian’s duty to improve the world, combined with the rise of social science and labor and agrarian movements, contributed to this increasing emphasis on the environments of the poor.