Social Welfare & Social work

Social Welfare & Social work

Social welfare is a nation’s system of programs, benefits, and services that helps people meet those social, economic, educational, and health needs that are fundamental to the maintenance of society.

Social welfare overlaps with sociology, psychology, and other disciplines on a knowledge-base level. When theories and research in other academic disciplines have direct applications to the social welfare goal of enhancing the social functioning of people, then this knowledge is also part of the knowledge base of social welfare.

Currently there are two conflicting views of the role of social welfare in our society: the residual versus the institutional orientation. The residual approach characterized social welfare programs from early history to the depression of the 1930s, at which time programs with an institutional orientation began to be implemented. Social welfare programs have in the past been influenced (and to some extent still are) by the Protestant ethic, the laissez-faire economic view, social Darwinism, individualism, the Industrial Revolution, and humanitarian ideals. The two prominent political philosophies in the United States are liberalism and conservatism. Liberals generally adhere to an institutional orientation, whereas conservatives tend to adhere to a residual orientation.

There are likely to be important changes in the social welfare field in the future, primarily due to anticipated technological advances. In summary form, technological advances largely determine changes in our lifestyles; lifestyle changes largely determine changes in our future social, financial, health, and recreational needs; and the latter changes largely determine changes in needed social service programs.

Dramatic changes are also anticipated in the American family of the future due to technological advances in biology and medicine and to the current experimentation with new family forms. Some of these new forms will be found dysfunctional and will be discarded, whereas others will be found satisfying and functional and will probably be incorporated into the “typical” family of the future. The anticipated technological advances and the adoption of new family forms will result in the creation of new social service programs and the expansion of certain existing programs. Unless such changes are carefully examined and planned, our society faces a future shock.

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