By Michael Simpkin
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Extra info for Trapped within Welfare: Surviving Social Work
Yet it is on our analysis of this particular function that our approach to social work must turn , because it highlights the standards by which we work and poses the question of our ultimate loyalties. The background for this sluggish but steady absorption of the control concept has been the increasingly explicit use of social work as an instrument of social policy. This aspect did exist in the creation and development of children's departments but was never so obvious because of the restricted nature of their field.
Social workers are caught in a particularly schizophrenic attitude. On the one hand, our ideals are based upon the possibility at least of individual change; on the other, we continually condition ourselves to expect the worst. It is significant that selfishness, the vice which causes us the most concern, should be that whose operation is essential to our economy, which is based on the individual pursuit of gain. It is small wonder that what should be so virtuous in one context should reappear in others as less than appropriate.
Rationing is the newest aspect of control and there are some critics who place much of the blame for our present plight on its introduction. But control is much more fundamental to our work than access to resources. Its most obvious manifestation, again in enactment of social policy, is the use of statutory powers which social workers have over members of the public - for instance, those which allow, in consultation with or at the request of other authorities, the removal of children and sometimes old people into residential homes against their wishes and of adults of any age into mental hospital.
Trapped within Welfare: Surviving Social Work by Michael Simpkin