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Encyclopedia of Social Work

20th Edition

The enduring profession of social work is now in its second century. Grounded in core values, it has withstood major political, social, and economic changes over time. The scope of its knowledge and skill continues to grow as the profession responds to developing needs in the United States and all over the world. Many social workers are in the forefront, shaping public policies, advancing client interventions, and influencing research agendas.

We proudly present Encyclopedia of Social Work, twentieth edition, built upon the legacy of scholarship from former editors and authors. This edition has been transformed by twenty-first century technology and information inside and outside the field. As editors in chief, our responsibility was to circumscribe the knowledge base of our profession as enormous changes have reshaped the world’s political, social, and economic order since the nineteenth edition. It has been a daunting challenge and a privilege to present social work knowledge, competencies, and values to the world. This edition represents an exponential growth in the content of our profession and in the methods of delivering that content to its audience. It has grown from three to four volumes, and includes many new, innovative as well as updated entries. For the first time, it is being produced by a partnership of the NASW Press and Oxford University Press. It will be available to the social work and other interested communities in hard copy and in electronic form.

The Encyclopedia conveys the breadth and depth of the profession’s collective expertise. It has been formulated and written by social workers from many backgrounds and competencies. Encompassing diversity in subject matter and authorship, it includes the best thinking, evidence, and practice wisdom translated into the best writing. While it is written for predominantly professional audiences, we have striven to make it accessible to both students and scholars, and useful to practitioners and policymakers.

The entries reflect the composite perspective of the United States while taking into account an increasingly international audience of social workers in academic, policy, and practice settings. All contributors were given a difficult and challenging set of requirements. Within a limited wordcount, they were asked to address several thematic areas for ‘‘infusion’’ into their entries. These include: historical foundations, contemporary issues and practice dimensions, multicultural perspectives, the latest theoretical foundations and research findings, and emerging trends and directions. We suggested they pay attention to the works or impact of other disciplines. They were also asked to include the latest and best interventions, methodologies, and techniques, and to highlight any ethical issues as well as challenges or debates related to the topic. They were guided by the question: What do social workers need to know or what is the relevance of your subject area to social workers? Many entries end with the roles and implications for social workers at the micro and macro levels.

The Context and Conditions

The first seven years of the twenty-first century have included some of the most far-reaching and even cataclysmic changes for the United States and the world. The millennium dawned in the context of globalization and interconnectedness, war, worldwide poverty, AIDS, and a variety of racial, ethnic, religious, and tribal conflicts in many parts of the world. This is the era when genetic codes were broken, genes mapped, and the cloning of animals and stem cells occurred amidst celebration and fear.

The United States went from unprecedented economic growth and surpluses to deficits and downsizing, and devolution from federal to state responsibility. Social programs have witnessed a continuing shift from public to private sector influence on health, education, and human services. A politically and economically conservative agenda has been dominant. And in addressing health and social problems, the first administration of the twenty-first century has emphasized the role of faith-based organizations and volunteerism as well as market-based solutions known as privatization.

The effects of the events of September 11, 2001, remain profound. The attacks on the United States resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent people and precipitated an aggressive global ‘‘war on terror’’ conducted by the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq with a massive amount of resources, manpower, and money. They are still shaping the role of and funding for social work and social services as well as the attitudes toward many of the people we serve. There are fewer dollars to cope with greater social problems, but social workers are more active than ever on the national, state, and local political scenes. By 2000, there were six social workers in the U.S. Congress; after the 2006 midterm congressional elections, there were ten: two senators and eight members of the House of Representatives, in addition to hundreds of social workers serving in public office at the state and local levels.

As the United States becomes increasingly multicultural, a virulent anti-immigrant sentiment has risen dramatically. As science and technology discover myriad new ways to prevent and treat diseases and disability, there has been ideological resistance to embryonic stem cell research and alternative measures to alleviate pain. As evidence-based practice becomes increasingly important, there are many examples of political considerations trumping hard data. Social workers are more active than ever in attempting to shape the public research agenda to include the social and environmental factors affecting human behavior. At the same time, the corporate sector has attempted to control professional behavior through managed care and behavioral health contracting. Some who support faith-based initiatives minimize the need and value of professionally trained experts. This is the complex and rapidly changing scenario full of contradictions and tensions in which the future of social work is embedded.

The major social work professional organization, the National Association of Social Workers, continues to develop its programs, policies, and practice standards. Yet challenges remain. The good news is that all fifty states have achieved some form of social work licensing and public recognition. But the bad news is that there have been divisions within the profession over the types and levels of licensure, continuing low salaries and job stresses, and competition from other professions for limited positions. And the social justice and antidiscrimination values that have been the underpinning of the NASW Code of Ethics, the foundation for the profession, have come under attack by some conservative critics.

To address these concerns, there have been major developments over the past few years to bring the diverse social work organizations together to collaborate on common agendas and the future direction of the profession. In 2002, the NASW convened a Social Work Summit, bringing forty-three different organizations together to begin a process of communication and cooperation. In 2005, a pioneering Social Work Congress was held in Washington, D.C., in which over three hundred social work leaders participated. It established twelve priorities for the next ten years. By 2007, the major social work organizations were on the path to consolidation by 2012. These moves toward a more unified profession, along with a national public education campaign spearheaded by NASW, could strengthen and expand its influence, recognition, and public support.

The Intellectual and Technical Production of the Twentieth Edition

For us, as the editors in chief, the starting point was to identify sixteen area editors from a very talented pool of qualified social workers. We are proud of the team we chose. They were selected for their wisdom, intellectual rigor, experience, and mastery over specific scholarly domains. They accepted a daunting challenge: that of producing and compiling what would be the major representation of our collective knowledge for the next decade. Their combined wealth of expertise helped conceptualize the major frameworks of the profession. Fourteen such thematic areas evolved: stages of the life span; components of human need; fields of practice; settings and service systems; population groups (by race, ethnicity, gender, age, and sexual orientation); social problem areas; methods of practice intervention; social work curriculum components (for example, research, policy, human behavior, and the social environment); the social profession; social welfare policy and history; social justice; technology; international and comparative perspectives; and special topics (economics; law; arts and culture). While the entries are listed alphabetically, each of them falls under one or more of these topical headings.

There are almost four hundred entries with 437 authors of enormous talent and diversity. The challenge of establishing a balance for each of the areas and their respective articles was formidable. For example, how much basic or general versus specific or specialized knowledge should be included? How much content from outside the United States should be included? How much standardization of entries versus creativity to allow? How should we gear the quality and detail to a multilevel group of readers? And should we use current accepted terminology or ‘‘cutting-edge’’ language of that specialty, such as ‘‘learning disability’’ versus ‘‘neuro-cognitive disability’’?

Encyclopedia Content

The content of the twentieth edition reflects the changes related to the social work community nationally and internationally over the past decade. We asked the critical question: What are the new and expanded content areas reflected in the various entries? Our tasks are more challenging today in part because of the complexity of the social problems in which our profession is engaged. We cannot always conduct the type of studies or evaluate interventions that could produce more definitive evidence because of ethical, funding, and political obstacles. We are obligated to protect human subjects. We are often engaged with unpopular causes, marginalized populations, and intransigent social conditions that are not easily fundable. But we are always searching to demonstrate that social workers ‘‘know something’’ and, more importantly, to explain how we know it. As social workers, we are addressing our rationale for ‘‘doing.’’ We strongly believe that a value base must underpin the knowledge and skill base. To borrow a phrase from the famous American sociologist, Robert Lynd: ‘‘Knowledge for what?’’

There are many important ways in which the twentieth edition has evolved. From nine overview entries in the nineteenth edition, there are now thirty-nine entries, explaining either a major framework or content area. Among them are: ‘‘Contexts/Settings’’ (for social work practice); ‘‘Human Needs’’, under which there are seven components; and ‘‘Lifespan’’ under which fall eight stages ranging from infancy to the oldest seniors. There are also several overview articles on the various fields and practice methods.

The topics of multiculturalism, cultural competence, and culturally competent practice are all new, in addition to an expanded twenty-three entries on various racial and ethnic groups. These include new topics on Arab Americans, South Asians, and Southeastern Asians. Spirituality and faith-based subject matter have grown to include a range of services and practices, including for the first time ‘‘Muslim Social Services.’’

While the Encyclopedia is a United States–based undertaking, we have increased the contributions from and about the international community as a whole and its component parts. From three entries in the nineteenth edition, there are fourteen entries in the current edition. What is most innovative are the regional overviews written by one or more authors from that part of the world: Africa (Sub-Sahara); Asia; Australia and the Pacific Islands; the Caribbean; Central America and Mexico; Europe; the Middle East and North Africa; North America (Canada and the United States); and South America. There are also new entries on globalization, immigration and immigration policy, and displaced persons. In addition, all authors were asked to include contributions from other countries and international perspectives where relevant.

The topics under research methodologies and technology, advanced in the nineteenth edition and its supplements, continue to explode. There are now twenty-five articles including ‘‘Technology in Micro Practice’’ and ‘‘Technology in Macro Practice’’ as well as ‘‘Research as a Practice Intervention’’ and ‘‘Best Practice’’. Each entry, where relevant, contains the latest research and best practices.

New and enlarged areas of practice as well as practice interventions were added, including ‘‘Forensic Social Work’’, ‘‘Rehabilitation’’, ‘‘Urban Social Work’’, and ‘‘Trauma’’. In addition, there are several new entries related to political themes: ‘‘Political Interventions’’, ‘‘Political Process’’, and ‘‘Political Social Work’’. The field of disability has also changed much since 1995. In addition to the overview entry, a range of disabilities has been identified as the knowledge base and its application to practice grow. Included among the new topics are articles on physical, psychiatric, neuro-cognitive, and developmental disabilities. The related areas of mental health, mental illness, and alcohol and drug problems have been expanded to go into more depth about these prominent areas of social work practice and policy. Finally, genetics has been updated to reflect the science and its implications for practice.

We have added to the section on social policy and social welfare four-fold, from two entries on social welfare history and social welfare policy to an overview article and then a series of articles on the history of social policy, from the colonial era through the twentieth century, along with an entry on social welfare expenditures. The whole area of social work education from the bachelors to the doctoral level has also expanded from one to nine separate entries.

The expansion of practice methods and interventions at all levels reflects exciting developments in the field. In addition to all the clinical areas, there are a range of new methods and settings, including working with involuntary clients (authoritarian settings), bereavement practice, interventions with couples, families, groups, and new entries related to techniques such as psychodrama, psychoanalysis, psycho- education, and compulsive behaviors. At the macro levels, there are additional components of community and administrative/management practice. In particular, there is an increasing emphasis on interorganizational and interdisciplinary practice as well as collaboration.

We have added forty social work luminaries to the Biography section, which includes deceased social workers who had a significant national or international impact on the profession or who had substantially shaped an area of practice or policy. We are happy to honor the contributions of this special group in our Encyclopedia.

The Appendix ‘‘Distinctive Dates in Social Welfare History’’ has been updated, expanded, and in a few instances, corrected. This is an important chronology for understanding the place of social work and social welfare in the broader social history of the United States and beyond.

And we are pleased to continue to include the current range of major social work organizations which collectively present the entire social work community. This is reflective of a kaleidoscope made up of the myriad interests and identities of our profession. Together, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and represents the power of social work.


Our heartfelt appreciation to the Area Editors Paula Allen-Meares, Darlyne Bailey, Elizabeth Clark, Diana Dinitto, Cynthia Franklin, Charles Garvin, Lorraine Gutierrez, Jan Hagen, Yeheskel (Zeke) Hasenfeld, Shanti Khinduka, Ruth McRoy, James Midgley, John Orme, Enola Proctor, Frederic Reamer, and Michael Sosin. They committed themselves to almost three years of difficult work that included selecting the best authors for the entries in their domain, critically reviewing and editing dozens of them, and in almost all cases, authoring their own contribution. We applaud their dedication and determination to make this Encyclopedia the most comprehensive and compelling tome yet.

We want to sincerely thank the hundreds of authors who contributed their time, wisdom, and intellect to crafting these wonderful entries. It was tremendously rewarding to validate the extent of our collective expertise, and to discover such a wealth of qualified social workers who are leaders in their fields. Some are world-renowned and some make their international debut through this work. We achieved our goal of having the contributors with only a few exceptions come from within our social work community. And we are extremely proud of the diversity of scholars in terms of gender, race, and ethnicity writing on a broad range of important topics. Several of the authors come from other countries Canada, Israel, Australia, and Ethiopia to name a few. These authors are a combination of well-known scholars within the social work community and ‘‘newcomers’’ who are just beginning to receive national recognition for their scholarship. They include a range of social work practitioners as well as academic researchers. In many instances, collaborators with complementary backgrounds were paired to enrich the entries.

Each entry went through at least three readings and revisions. We read and were involved in the editing of the almost four hundred entries, after receiving feedback from one or more area editors. We are extremely grateful for the talent of Julie Abramson and Anthony Tripodi who joined our editorial team when we needed additional professional assistance. And, finally, the skill, sensitivity, and sophistication exhibited by Oxford University Press in dealing with the authors, area editors, and the editors in chief cannot be overstated. The complexity of moving this massive enterprise forward with efficiency while emphasizing quality and comprehensiveness represented a challenge to all who were involved. Development Editor Eric Stannard and the staff of OUP kept the process organized and coherent.

We also want to convey our admiration to the editors and authors of former editions of the Encyclopedia. We are especially in awe of those professional leaders and scholars who dedicated so much of their time, energy, and intellect to this enterprise with less and less technology as we go back in time. It is hard to imagine orchestrating this project in such a timely way without email, the Internet, and the computer; yet this was how the earlier editions of the Encyclopedia were produced. And even the nineteenth edition had limited access to online information and electronic communication tools. Not only has communication technology enhanced the process of producing these volumes, but the product itself has also been enriched. Readers of the twentieth edition now have access to websites, web links, and publications online among the references and resources cited. These of course can become outdated or unavailable over time, but overall they deepen and extend the body of knowledge available to the audience.

We are confident that this enormous enterprise has produced a scholarly product that is rich in its knowledge base and will be informative to all who are either studying or practicing social work. We hope that all who read these entries will be informed, but also that they will be stimulated to become more engaged and active as scholars, practitioners, and critics. While we have completed our responsibilities, this master work will not be the final product. To capture and reflect the knowledge base of social work will continue as an everchanging and ever-expanding endeavor.

How to Use the Encyclopedia

There are nearly four hundred entries in Encyclopedia of Social Work, twentieth edition, arranged in alphabetical order letter by letter. These are followed by almost two hundred biographies of pioneers in the field of social work. The contributors have sought to write in clear language with a minimum of technical vocabulary. A selective bibliography at the end of each article directs the reader who wishes to pursue a topic in greater detail to primary sources and the most important scholarly works, plus the most useful works in English.

To guide readers from one article to related discussions elsewhere in the Encyclopedia, end-references appear at the end of many articles. There are crossreferences within the body of a few articles. Blind entries direct the user from an alternate form of an entry term to the entry itself. For example, the blind entry ‘‘Elderly People’’ directs the reader to ‘‘See Aging.’’ At the end of volume 4 the reader can find a topical outline (which shows how articles relate to one another and to the overall design of the Encyclopedia), the directory of contributors, and a comprehensive index.

Terry Mizrahi
Larry E. Davis