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Abstract

Through a structural-functional analysis, the relationship between the profession of social work and the institution of social welfare is examined. Social welfare Is defined as an institution concerned with those legitimated needs of people which relate to the quality of life which cannot be met in the marketplace. The central mission of the institution of social welfare is seen in three dimensions: social control, humanitarianism and feedback to society of patterns of social hurt which prevent the achievement of humanitarian aspirations and threaten the stability of the social order.

Institution provides one set of coordinates to the grid of social structure which is depicted. The other set of coordinates is provided by social class and class conflicts which define both form and content of the institution of social welfare and the contradictions of the relationship between the profession of social work and its anchoring institution.

Through examining the place of social work in social structure, it is suggested that theory can be developed to explain problems of professional development and guide the evolution of the profession.

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