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Case Critical
The Dilemma of Social Work in Canada

Carniol, Ben
Publisher:  Between The Lines, Toronto, Canada
Year Published:  1987  
Pages:  142pp   ISBN:  0-919946-80-1
Library of Congress Number:  HV105.C67   Dewey:  361'.971
Resource Type:  Book

Abstract:  Carniol begins with the observation that both social workers and their "clients" are often unhappy with the reality of social work. He says that by 'offering aid to a variety of client populations, such as the disabled, the unemployed, the poor, the ill, the elderly, social work reinforces the impression that the organized society__the state__and its institutions care about and care for all the people within its confines. Yet, in my opinion, many social problems are aggravated or, indeed, created by the political, economic, and social conditions organized under the wide-ranging umbrella of the state__which then turns around and offers social work assistance." He explains the frustration of many social workers by saying that "social work is often used to paper over the cracks that have appeared over the years in the walls of an unjust society. As a result the major source of many social problems remains untouched. Typically social workers are expected to confine themselves to working with symptoms only." Case Critical looks at the early history of social work in Canada, where the model was "stern charity, charity designed to be as uncomfortable and demeaning as possible." It moves on to trace the evolution of social work as it exists today, its management structure, the social and economic conditions it is supposed to respond to, and the contradictions it has to cope with. One chapter is devoted to giving voice to the "clients" and their experiences of the social work system. The final chapter, "Social Work and Social Change: Fighting Back" discusses ways for social workers, clients, and others to challenge the system. Carniol quotes a British group: "While it is important to demand resources, one thing we cannot ask for is new social relations: we have to make them."

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