Social Work In Ireland

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Introduction According to John Pierson there are four distinct ways of interpreting social work history. The Whig Interpretation of History is an uncritical chronological story. The Marx interpretation views social work within class stratification. Then there are Professional Self-Advancement, Social Work as a form of social control and Feminist perspectives. Foucault also differentiates between archaeology and genealogy in his approach to writing history. This paper will focus on the central factors that led to modern social work in Ireland. There will be reference to the macro factors that occurred in Britain and America accompanied with a concentration on micro factors particular to Ireland. Social work, social problems, and the organisations…show more content…
Phase One The development of social work in Ireland has been accounted for in four historical stages by Skehill (1999a). In the late 19th century, social work emerged out of the “philanthropic” activities of numerous voluntary groups, such as St. Vincent de Paul and the Sisters of Charity. In this first phase of the development of the profession at the end of the 19th century, industrialization had led to increased urbanization and the extreme poverty and deprivation in living standards were increasingly apparent. In Dublin there were over 400 charitable organizations providing social services to the “deserving” and “respectable” poor (Darling, 1972). Three movements, the Charity Organisation Society (COS) movement, the settlement house movement, and a third less defined movement- the development of institutions to deal with the entire range of social problems, grew rapidly during the nineteenth century and were all borne out religious organisations. In contrast to Britain and the United States where philanthropists established national organisations of relief, the political and interdominational rivalry in Ireland inhibited large scale coordination of charity and the growth of social reform. “Archaeologically,…show more content…
In the early 19th century, there was a substantial growth in hospitals and related services run by Catholic religious orders and lay organisations. In the mid-19th century, the British government introduced the workhouse or poor law system, which provided infirmaries, dispensaries and medical officers to care for the very poor. However, standards were set intentionally low to prevent malingering. In 1899, a group of students at Trinity College Dublin formed “the Dublin University Social Service Society which raised funds from students to buy and manage a housing scheme.” (Darling, 1972). In the same year, Alexandra College in Dublin established the Alexandra Guild, an association of past students of the college. Members of the Guild undertook voluntary social work, largely in the form of rent collection. The Guild also paid for Ms. Bagley to be trained in England, under the guidance of Octavia Hill, as a housing manager. It was not until 1912 that Alexander College introduced a course in “Civic and Social Work” which aimed to meet the “growing demand for instruction in the proper method of dealing with the important social and economic problems presented in society” (Skehill, 1999a, p.91). In 1919, Ms. Alcock became the first social worker
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