Introducing social work
Edited by Steven M. Shardlow and Pete Nelson

What is professional social work?

What is it that social workers actually do?

Addressing these fundamental questions in breadth and depth, this concise and helpful text will inform its readers and encourage reflection. It will be valuable to anyone thinking about becoming a social worker, or at an early stage in their professional training; to researchers and policy makers who need a starting point; and to students and professionals in other disciplines who are seeking to build collaborative relationships.

The key themes of the introduction - locating contemporary practice in its social and historical context, and giving prominence to the themes of social justice and the voice of the user - are built on by a final chapter that considers what is most likely to influence the future development of social work as a profession.

This broad discussion is illustrated by chapters in between that explore in more depth contemporary policy and practice in social work's major areas: care for older people; work with children and families; work with offenders and juvenile justice; disability; mental illness. Written by acknowledged experts from both teaching and practice, these chapters describe and analyse the relevant forms, structures and methods of practice; and will help you to:
  • discover the specific social, political and economic contexts
  • identify the legislation which guides practice
  • consider the way services are organized
  • begin to think about the issues which challenge practitioners in their everyday work.

  • Together they provide a depth and breadth of knowledge with an immediacy and freshness of recent practice, which will speak directly to those who want to learn and those who strive to teach.

    Paperback. 128 pages. 978-1-903855-5-22. Published 2005. £14.95.


    What is professional social work?
    Social work and social justice Annette Rimmer, University of Salford
    Social work with children and families Pete Nelson, Sheffield Hallam University
    Care for older people Cherry Rowlings, University of Stirling Offenders and juvenile justice Brian Williams, De Montfort University
    Disability and normalization Kirsten Stalker, University of Stirling and Cathy Spencer, ARC
    Social work and mental illness Kathryn Mackay, University of Stirling
    Future developments in social work Steven M. Shardlow, University of Salford


    Professor Steven M. Shardlow is Chair of Social Work at the University of Salford, Director of Salford Centre for Social Work Research and Professor II (Social Work) at Bodø University College, Norway. He has published numerous books including Making Links Across Social Work Specialisms, edited with Jan Horwath (RHP 2003). In addition, he is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Social Work.

    Pete Nelson is Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Sheffield Hallam University.


    "Are you considering a career in social work? Then this is the book for you. It should also be read by experienced workers and teachers in the profession… The chapters trace the historical developments in social work thinking, policy and organisation and in so doing promote a persuasive, and often moving, argument for a invigorated practice based on the values of social justice, inclusion and self determination. Many of the chapters rightly stress the need for practitioners to continuously reconnect with these values and principles. The book manages to include some very recent policy developments and trends… a flavour of coming changes…. The content is powerful and deserves to be read." Community Care.