Module History of Social Work
History of ideas and development of professional social work from gender perspectives
Research into the history of Social Work has been given new impetus with the current discussions about the changes in welfare states, work relations, the labour market and thus in the ways in which gender is organised, in particular in the cultural and social environment. There seems to be a need to turn to the past in order to reflect upon the present position of Social Work in a changing Europe. Incorporated into prevailing state structures, Social Work is today - and has been throughout history - challenged both to respond to the social and individual situation of its users and to develop its own professional standards. The historical dimension proves furthermore that throughout history, women have played a significant role in the establishment of Social Work as a profession and that social work theory, education and research can no longer afford to neglect the issue of gender.
The lectures compiled here are a result of the activities of the working group on Feminism and the History of Social Work as a part of the Athena3 – Advanced Thematic Network in European Women’s Studies, which was set up to develop a teaching module on the European History of Social Work. The working group collaborated closely with the “Network for Historical Studies on Gender and Social Work in Europe”, which in 2001 envisaged a comparative investigation of the history of social work in Europe. Their shared interest led members of the two networks to gather historical insights into a lecture course, dedicated to a new and comparative perspective. Different topics, all relevant in the European discourses, are traced back in history and discussed in an international and national context. Presenting the distinct histories of social work and histories of welfare across Europe, this teaching material opens up new perspectives for both students and teachers in higher education, as well as for those actually carrying out or conducting research into gender-sensitive social work.