The Birth and Institutionalization of Social Work as a Discipline: The Case of the USA

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Istanbul University, Institute Of Social Sciences, Turkey

Approval Date: 2022

Thesis Language: Turkish


Supervisor: Mehmet Ali Akyurt


The USA initially fed from England in the field of social work and used the practices modeled from there. Over time, it has developed social work in its own unique conditions and has made global contributions, including in England, in the process of becoming a discipline. This study examines the sociological, economic and political conditions that made possible the birth of a discipline in the period between 1850-1950, which expresses the emergence process of social work; factors and actors affecting its development; The subject is in the context of the unique variables of the USA.

Although there is no study on the birth and institutionalization of the discipline in Turkish literature, a few words have been said about the USA in the context of social work history in some very limited studies. However, no study has been found that deals with the emergence of the discipline in the USA.

In the study, the birth and institutionalization process of the social work discipline, which includes the search for solutions against the rapid and destructive changes that emerged in the USA, especially in the second half of the 19th century, with the effect of the Industrial Revolution and modernization, is discussed with a historical perspective. The variables affecting the social work becoming a discipline, the emerging institutions and their effects were evaluated in the context of the conditions of the period. The economic and social changes of the period, the structures created by volunteers and the publications they produced, the close relations with the academy, the changing positions of the private enterprise and the state over time are the factors that have significant effects on the discipline process. The understanding of the Charitable Organization, which has religious inclinations, liberal and puts individuality in the center, and the understanding of the Shelter, with socialist tendencies, which attaches importance to the centrality of the state, prioritizing changing the mechanisms that reveal poverty and prioritizing the social, express the two basic ideas in the process of the emergence and institutionalization of the discipline. Our study proceeds by placing these two understandings at the center of the discipline and institutionalization process of social work, as in many studies in the field. In our study, which includes a wide historical range, it is aimed to create a holistic view of the emergence and institutionalization of social work in the USA, and in this context, a narrative has been tried to be created.