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Systems Theory and Social Work

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Abstract

One of the earliest references to social work and systems theory goes as far back as 1976 (Forder 1976). At the time the theory was being articulated most notably in works seeking to provide social workers with a unitary model of practice by Goldstein (1972) and Pincus & Minahan (1973), one that could offer a holistic framework within which to place social work practice. Social work as a new profession was evolving and experimenting with ideas from psychology, sociology and social policy to try to find an identity and set of skills based on solid theories, so there was a lot of effort being put into creating a professional identity, value base and intellectual framework that could explain what social work was. This debate has continued ever since mediated through changes in society, economic upheavals, population trends, legal and educational developments. Because society is in constant flux it is inevitable that social work should be unsettled, and theoretically promiscuous- it is not a problem but a reflection of how social work must evolve to respond to new challenges, and constant change.
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