The definition of social work in the United Kingdom, 2000–2010
Article first published online: 7 FEB 2011
© 2011 The Author(s) International Journal of Social Welfare. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and the International Journal of Social Welfare
International Journal of Social Welfare
Volume 21, Issue 1, pages 34–43, January 2012
How to Cite
Dickens, J. (2012), The definition of social work in the United Kingdom, 2000–2010. International Journal of Social Welfare, 21: 34–43. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2397.2011.00782.x
- Issue published online: 4 DEC 2011
- Article first published online: 7 FEB 2011
- Accepted for publication December 5, 2010
- definition of social work;
- roles and tasks of social work;
- social care;
- United Kingdom
Dickens J. The definition of social work in the United Kingdom, 2000–2010.
This article reviews the approaches that the four countries of the United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – have taken in recent years for organising, regulating and defining social work. Social work is one of the policy areas that have been devolved to the constituent countries. This has brought extensive organisational changes, multiple policy initiatives and a proliferation of regulatory and advisory agencies. The article focuses on the attempts by these official bodies to define social work, treating the United Kingdom as a case study of the tensions of specifying what social work is and what it should be. The various attempts expose the strains and overlaps between the different agencies, and a bigger struggle to contain and control social work. The article highlights four key dimensions in the enduring debates: values–roles, social–individual, care–control and public–professional.