Any effort to define appropriate tasks and directions for social work practice must necessarily come to grips with some analysis of the particular social-political-historical situation within which that practice is being formulated. Too often it seems as though we attempt to define practice abstracted from the particular period in which that practice takes place. It is true, on the one hand, that it is important to develop generic principles of practice. Similarly, it is true that the definition of the social work task is not a matter left solely to the discretion of the profession. In fact, the profession may have a relatively small voice, at any moment, in defining its task. On the other hand, the separation of practice formulations from the specifics of the historical moment leads to blind technicism and to the charge of irrelevance which has often and sometimes accurately been leveled at the profession. And, while we may have far from the definitive influence on our own practice, if we are not conscious of directions we value and do not press for them to the extent possible, then we do not act with the fullest responsibility for human service.

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