Social welfare and social work practice are based upon and limited by concepts concerning the role of work in society. These include coverage, vestedness, administration, and the wage-stop. As human labor becomes quantitatively less important in the technological society, and as attitudes toward work change, the role of social work should become proactive -- leading toward necessary and desirable changes, including new meanings of the concept work and new methods of distributing income, rather than continuing to attempt to shore up an increasingly outmoded systems of values and structures.

In examining the content of the major social work textbooks published in the United States during the 1970s, Ephross and Reisch (1982) identify the basic ideological positions of the authors, distinguishing between those that view social welfare and social work as concerned primarily with the socioeconomic system; those that deal mostly with individual differences; and those that attempt to do both. In none of these books, however, including that of this author (Macarov, 1978), is the immanence of the concept of employment throughout welfare programs posited as a major determinant of the welfare systems and social work. It is the purpose of this paper, therefore, to point out the ubiquitousness of the work/welfare link throughout social welfare programs, and to trace the deleterious results of that link in terms of the individual and social problems caused.