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Under the Cover of Kindness the Invention of Social Work

by Leslie Margolin

  • ISBN: 9780813917139
  • ISBN10: 0813917131

Under the Cover of Kindness the Invention of Social Work

by Leslie Margolin

  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Univ of Virginia Pr
  • Publish date: 06/01/1997
  • ISBN: 9780813917139
  • ISBN10: 0813917131
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Description: For over a century the field of social work has progressively insinuated itself into the fabric of the American underclass. Prior to its invention, political surveillance was more or less restricted to public domains: streets, businesses, schools. With the rise of social work, it became possible to keep track of marginal and common people in their homes as they pursued their most private activities. Expansion into this underclass culture has resulted in a massive system of surveillance that enables social workers to do their jobs. The consequence, however, is a systematic policing of the American family from the standpoint of the middle classes and their values.

In Under the Cover of Kindness, Leslie Margolin looks at how this country's social welfare system developed and with what results. From his detailed examination of social work texts, primarily case histories, he argues persuasively that social work disguises its own assumptions and claims to power as a way of further legitimizing its actions. By attending to these case histories, Margolin shows how social work entails not only the intrusion into the previously private space of the home but also the constant justification of this intervention -- to both clients and the workers themselves -- as representing charitable and disinterested help. This book critically assesses how social workers invent themselves as they simultaneously invent their field of knowledge.

Well-written and provocative, Under the Cover of Kindness upsets conventional understandings of social work. As America assesses welfare reform, this critique from the left is likely to provoke and broaden debate.

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