Social Work and Social Policy: An Introduction (Paperback) book cover

Social Work and Social Policy

An Introduction

By Jonathan Dickens

© 2010 – Routledge

200 pages | 6 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2009-11-20
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About the Book

An understanding of social policy is vital for engaging practically with social work values, dealing with political and ethical questions about responsibility, rights, our understanding of ‘the good society’. This textbook provides a comprehensive introduction to social policy, tailored to the needs of a social work audience.

Jonathan Dickens analyses current policies and policy themes relevant to social work, and locates them in the context of fundamental social policy principles and debates. He discusses the nature of social policy and its relationship to social work, and covers essential themes such as:

  • service user participation and involvement
  • the balance between individual, societal and state responsibility for people’s wellbeing
  • the proper roles of the state, the private sector, voluntary organisations and the family
  • the relationships between needs, rights and choices
  • the purposes and challenges of professional social work
  • the meanings of ‘inclusion’ and ‘personalisation’.

Each chapter ends with activities for reflection and analysis, and suggestions for further reading. Social Work and Social Policy is invaluable for students undertaking social work qualifying courses, all of whom are required to demonstrate an understanding of the social policy contexts of practice.


‘At last a social policy text of direct relevance to social work. This accessible, readable book addresses the challenge of analysing social work within a wider context. Refreshingly jargon free yet grounded in social work values, it usefully explores a range of topical issues of real importance to social work practitioners.’ - Robert Johns, University of East London, UK

‘This book provides a lively and refreshing re-examination of the relationship between social policy and social work. Students will find here helpful models clarifying different approaches to the policy practice interface. Key policy agendas are addressed, such as human rights, poverty, participation and inter-agency working, and their impact on social work. Equally important students and practitioners are encouraged to engage with policy-making and ideas.’ – Malcolm Hill, University of Strathclyde, UK

Table of Contents

Introduction Part 1: Key Models 1. What is Social Work For? 2. What is Social Policy About? 3. The Role of the State Part 2: Key Issues 4. Needs and Rights 5. Inequality, Poverty and Difference 6. Participation and Choice Part 3: Current Topics 7. Professionalism and Inter-professionalism 8. The Organisational Context 9. Social Work and Money Conclusion

About the Author

Jonathan Dickens is Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Course Director for the MA in Social Work at the University of East Anglia, UK.

About the Series

Student Social Work

This textbook series is ideal for all students studying to be qualified social workers, whether at undergraduate or Masters level. Covering key elements of the social work curriculum, the books are accessible, interactive and thought-provoking.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Social Policy