You are here

What is Social Work?

What is Social Work?
Contexts and Perspectives

Fifth Edition

November 2018 | 280 pages | Learning Matters
Following the lives of four fictional time-travelling characters, it examines the changing functions of social work by unpicking the changing social and political responses to their needs.  From its historical roots to the modern and fast-moving profession it has become, this book looks in detail at how social work has evolved as a profession, what social work looks like in recent years and where it is heading. There are key chapters on working with different service user groups including vulnerable adults, children and families and those with learning difficulties or having to live with mental distress. There are also chapters that cover social work as a profession, including current services, practices, themes and debates. 
Chapter 1: Introduction and core themes
Chapter 2: The beginnings of social work: "The comfort of strangers"
Chapter 3: Social work with children, young people and families
Chapter 4: Social work with people with learning difficulties
Chapter 5: Social work with people experiencing mental distress
Chapter 6: Social work and older people
Chapter 7: Formalising and consolidating social work as a profession
Chapter 8: Current services, practices and issues
Chapter 9: Summarising remarks and signposts
Appendix 1: Professional Capabilities Framework
Appendix 2: Subject Benchmark for Social Work
Appendix 3: A code of ethics for social work (BASW) values and principles
Appendix 4: Mapping services in modern social work and social care settings
Appendix 5: Time line of the development of social work
Appendix 6: Summary of recommendations from the Munro Report
Appendix 7: The standards of proficiency for social workers in England and the Professional Capabilties Framework
Appendix 8: Building a Safe and Confident Future (July 2009)
Resources and useful websites

I'm impressed with this series of books, and am recommending them whenever relevant to a module.

Ms maria marrinan
Social Work, University of Suffolk
November 23, 2023

This is a really useful introduction to the different roles of social workers and the historical development of the profession, with really helpful links to the PCF. It's a perfect introductory textbook for our introductory undergraduate social work module.

Dr Andy Jolly
School of Health Professions, Plymouth University
August 2, 2022

This book covers all the bases for introducing social work to students at the beginning of their course. Text is broken down into easily digested pedagogical features which allow the student to read digest and reinforce learning. Horner summarises material elegantly, which aids understanding for the student and supports lecturers in developing each session without additional research eg mapping changes from previous legislation when CA 1989 introduced. It is particularly important in the context that the students on this course are accessing material via blended learning as social work apprentices.

Ms Linda Daley
School of Social Policy, Sociology & Social Research , University of Kent
April 28, 2020

This is an exceptional resource for students wishing to become social workers. It is written in simple enough language for adult returners to learning to understand and it has prepared many of our students for their university interviews. I have been waiting for this updated edition as I have been using this resource for teaching for some years now. The appendices are excellent, particularly the timeline for social work development.

Mrs Jacquie Hodges
Education, Walsall College
September 27, 2019

A very helpful introduction to both the historical policy context, yet also the contemporary landscape for social work.

Mr Luke Tibbits
school of Psychological Social & Behavioural Sciencs, Coventry University
June 26, 2019

Sample Materials & Chapters

What is Social Work? - Preview

Nigel Horner

Nigel Horner is Head of the School of Health and Social Care at the University of Lincoln, where he teaches social work history, theory and methods, residential child care and ageing and older people. He began working in a London Borough Children’s Home in 1972, before studying Sociology at Durham University. After a period as a Community Worker, he qualified in Social Work from Glasgow University in 1980, and thereafter worked in Mental Health, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Fostering and Youth Offending settings. He is also a Senior Fellow in the Higher Education Academy. More About Author

Purchasing options

Please select a format:

ISBN: 9781473989481
ISBN: 9781473989474