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Abstract

The following discussion proceeds from two basic premises: (1) that the family constitutes one of the most basic units of social structure in contemporary American society, and (2) that the social work profession represents a major, if not the primary, institutional mechanism for coping with the myriad of social problems encountered by American families. The former premise is readily substantiated in view of the observation that the vast majority (over 9O%) of American men and women are married at least once in their lifetimes. However, since family units oftentimes experience severe difficulty in performing key functions and, indeed, in maintaining themselves over a period of years a variety of professions have evolved with an express orientation towards the sustenance or strengthening of family life. The following discussion will focus upon key interrelationships between the American family and one such profession, to wit, social work. Coincidentally problematic aspects of those interrelationships will be noted and an effort will be made to specify relevant implications for the future development of the social work profession.

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