Departmental Papers (SPP)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

January 2002


The goal of this article is to contribute to our understanding of the way in which students at the very beginning of their social work training view the sources of social problems and the way in which society should deal with these problems. This is part of an effort to determine the contemporary role of social change in the thinking of social workers in different national settings. Traditionally, social work has regarded social change as one of its primary professional objectives. Ever since the settlement houses were first established in the late years of the 19th century, many social workers have indeed been actively involved in social action aimed at bringing about social reform for the betterment of deprived segments of society. These efforts first took place in a period during which the term "welfare state" had yet to be coined and the notion of state responsibility for social protection for the poor was not widely accepted. Nevertheless, the conviction of these early social workers that social conditions were the prime cause of deprivation and poverty led them to actively seek improved social legislation and programs (Addams, 1910: Leighninger and Midgley, 1997).


Copyright Sage Publications. Postprint version. Published in International Social Work, Volume 45 Issue 1, 2002, pages 59-81.

The authors assert their right to include this material in the Scholarly Commons@Penn.



Date Posted: 27 November 2006

This document has been peer reviewed.