Charity Organization Society, settlements, social work identity, social work history, philosophy of social work, clinical social work, social reform


Social work has experienced unique tensions related to its professional identity and dual purpose of social reform and individualized treatment. Scholars have represented this dual purpose, epitomized by Jane Addams and Mary Richmond, as indicating irreconcilable differences. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the writings and speeches of Mary Richmond and Jane Addams, and, based on this inquiry, to assert that their respective approaches to social work are much more unified than often suggested. Specific themes examined include: acceptance and need for each other’s perspectives; compatibility and unity of perspectives; and their collaboration as critical for effecting social change. With this more complex understanding of Richmond and Addams, the authors speculate about how a more holistic approach to social work practice is needed in the 21st century.

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