Social work gathers three branches of activity—i.e., social service, specialized education, and socio-cultural animation—that had neither the same genesis nor the same means of professionalization. Besides, the definitions of social work have always been subject to political, ideological, and economic circumstances. Social work more particularly first defined itself in opposition to traditional philanthropy, even though its missions were questionable. The sixties witnessed a radical questioning, paradoxically enriching for the profession, while the most recent criticisms go as far as doubting the efficiency of social work, otherwise of its raison d’être.
By Françoise Blum