From an historical-materialist perspective American society is in a transition to a new structural form--a new order. The future of social welfare and social work practice is intimately bound to the nature and outcome of this transition. Moreover, the transition has economic and ideological characteristics that hold important implications for changes in the ways social workers view their clients and conduct their practice. Employing an historicalmaterialist analysis, this article will discuss the nature of the societal transition and its implications for social welfare and social work practice.

The analysis will be prefaced with a synopsis of basic concepts and assumptions of the historical-materialist perspective as developed by Marx and Engles. The perspective is seen as a useful framework for assessing contemporary social work theory. The utility of the perspective for the present discussion is seen as independent of the merits and demerits of the various causes and groups labeled as or claiming to be based unon an historicalmaterialist or Marxist perspective.