Rethinking the clinical vs. social reform debate: a dialectical approach to defining social work in the 21st century
Thompson, John Brandon
University of Kansas
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There is a historical tension in social work between the clinical and social reform perspectives. The original goal for this dissertation was to offer pragmatism as a philosophical orientation that would make sense of these two seemingly disparate perspectives by explaining how they may coexist. A historical analysis of nine key social work scholars and four major social work conferences was conducted in order to better understand this historical debate. The findings were unexpected as they reveal a historical understanding of social work in which pragmatism is already present in nearly all of the conceptions of social work analyzed. Moreover, all of the major social work scholars understand social work to be dual focused, meaning that there is no divide between the clinical and social reform perspectives--social work comprises both. Conclusions and implications for social work practice, research, education and policy are discussed
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- Social Welfare Dissertations and Theses 
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