Defining the profession: exploring an international definition of social work in the China context

Hutchings, Anna and Taylor, Imogen (2007) Defining the profession: exploring an international definition of social work in the China context. Journal of International Social Welfare, 16 (4). pp. 382-390. ISSN 1369-6866

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Global social work defies concise definition. In this article, the key terms of the definition of social work formulated by the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) are critically analysed. It is argued that this definition cannot claim to be `universal¿ given the assumptions on which it is built and the rapidly changing global society in which social work is undertaken. This is demonstrated in the form of an analysis of social welfare provision and its implications for contemporary social work in China to assess whether the IFSW definition is applicable in this context. The conclusion is that the emerging aims and practice of social work in China are likely to be quite different from those in the West, and that the IFSW definition of social work has value as a point of reference rather than as a definitive definition or a statement of intent. Failure to recognise the limitations of a global definition risks ignoring the lived experience of social workers in China and those they work with.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This paper has attracted international attention and has already become a primary reference point. It breaks new ground with a critique of the international definition of social work based on a detailed analysis of China, using evidence from history, social policy, and social work literatures. The Journal Editor spotted its potential for 'Debate' and commissioned responses from internationally renowned social work educators (Leung, Hong Kong University; Sewpaul, KwaZulu University). Publication resulted in an immediate response from a Shanghai researcher and an invitation to Taylor for a further response (2008). Written by Taylor, this paper builds on Hutchings' supervised Masters dissertation.
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Social Work and Social Care
Depositing User: Imogen Taylor
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:14
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2012 13:48
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