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The Essence of Profession of Social Work Essay

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Updated: Sep 17th, 2022

Since the emergence of humanity, mercy, mutual help and assistance have been the main driving force behind the social system’s development. Families united in communities to help each other in raising children and caring for the sick and old. If there was no mutual assistance, there would be no development of society. People needed to create an integrated system of state support for vulnerable groups, which contributed to the emergence of a new profession – a human services worker. It has become a step towards forming a humanistic society and this occupation functions and flourishes, improving its work forms and methods.

Not every person is capable of performing a social worker job. The human services profession is not only an occupation but a position of mind. Some scholars consider that this is an avocation that gives a feeling of belonging and devotion to this work, without which it is impossible to communicate with people who face problems (Craig et al., 2017). A human services worker should mentally empathize with people, feel sympathy and love for them, and be willing to help to change the situation for the better. Thus, not every person will become a satisfactory specialist in this field since it depends on the emotional aspect.

The emergence of social work characteristics dates back to the Middle Ages, when the clergy served and cared for the poor. From then, the development of this direction has begun, which subsequently gave rise to the movement for charity and social justice in the 19th century. Jones and Lima (2018) claim that the modern profession of the social worker has developed from three different directions. There is social policy for poverty reduction, based on the English Poor Laws of the 17th century, the Charity Organization Society’s activities in Great Britain, and measures taken by the settlement house movement. Thus, the development of the profession of a social worker began in the Middle Ages.

The driving force for the spread of social work was moral values: compassion, sympathy, the pursuit of justice, and social progress. They gave rise to the development and popularization of the charity. First of all, this tendency is connected to society’s spiritual sphere since the main world religions promote assistance to the community’s most vulnerable citizens. According to Jones and Lima (2018), in the 16th and 17th centuries helping the poor was the social responsibility of the population’s wealthier segments. Thus, since in the Middle Ages the church had significant influence and actively promoted spiritual values, the idea of charity began to spread in society.

With the development of industrialization and urbanization, the church’s work of helping the poor began to be supplanted by more formal welfare services. In connection with the strengthening of social stratification in the 19th century, reforms began in Europe, and social work became more systemic. Jones and Lima (2018) note that after the fall of feudalism, the state authorities believed that the poor were a threat to the social order’s stability. In this regard, the state took several measures to organize systemic assistance to needy persons. For example, in 1834, the Poor Law Amendment Act was passed in England, which led to centralizing the social assistance system and increasing social activity (Jones & Lima, 2018). Thus, workhouses were created, which became one of the significant socio-economic and socio-political decisions of the 19th century.

In the 20th century and into the 21st, the development of social professions extended actively. Social workers continue to labor for justice and compassion, as well as equality in civil rights. Thus, today in different European countries, various practical models of social work are prevalent. As stated by Thompson and Stepney (2017), the English model is characterized by minimal state participation in the social sphere, and the financial basis for the implementation of social programs is private insurance. In turn, in the continental model, widespread in Germany, Austria, France, and Italy, there is a more active public sector intervention in social work. Moreover, there is the Scandinavian model, which was adopted in Sweden, Norway, and Finland, and which is characterized by a high degree of universality and institutionalization, emphasizing the public sector. Thus, today, social work continues to develop actively, and in various European countries this area has characteristic features.

As for the social worker’s perspective future, many factors indicate that this area’s demand will increase every year. Millions of people, including the retired, the disabled, the unemployed, orphans, and refugees, need emergency social assistance and protection. Nikitina et al. (2017) assert that in the context of today’s reality, the focus of the social worker’s activities is shifting. Technologies aimed at increasing the client’s adaptability and their stability in a situation of constant changes in living conditions are becoming relevant. Consequently, the dependence of social work on economic, political, and spiritual processes in society determines its ability to influence the change in the individual’s status in the social space. As European countries’ history shows, neither social development programs nor the social policy of the state can be implemented without taking into account the activities of social workers. Specialists in this field are involved as experts in preparing legislative acts and decision-making by local authorities and public organizations. Therefore, social workers are unfolding the broadest prospects in the coming years.

In conclusion, the profession of a human services worker is complicated and has a rich history of its development. A person who decides to become a social worker needs to make difficult decisions, be a good psychologist, possess such qualities as liability, decency, communication skills, tact, have good organizational skills and leadership qualities. Moreover, the human worker’s contribution to the life of society is tremendous and invaluable.


Craig, S., Iacono, G., Paceley, M., Dentato, M., & Boyle, K. (2017). Journal of Social Work Education, 53(3), 466-479. Web.

Jones, D., & Lima, A. (2018). Oxford Bibliographies.Web.

Nikitina, N., Romanova, E., & Vasilyeva, T. (2017). European Journal of Contemporary Education, 6(1), 64-76. Web.

Thompson, N., & Stepney, P. (2017). Social work theory and methods. The essentials. Routledge.

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