From its inception in the 1930's, public welfare has emerged as a major service industry commanding a sizeable portion of the public tax dollar. Concomitant with growth and size and expenditure has come the federalization of the program. In the face of a series of changes--the growth of welfare, added administrative complexity, and the emergence of new economic function--public welfare's identification with social work was weakened. Correspondingly, and perhaps logically, its identification with public administration has been strengthened. In this paper, there is exploration of the changes leading to the confrontation between social work and public administration within public welfare. A comparative analysis of this confrontation is undertaken, and the methods of conflict resolution between the professions are explored. The principal purpose of the paper, however, is to draw attention to the argument, stimulate further debate about this course of events, and encourage some public policy direction in public welfare.

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