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Unfaithful Angels: How Social Work Has Abandoned its Mission


TheCrow
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Has anyone read "Unfaithful Angels: How Social Work Has Abandoned its Mission" by Harry Specht (Deceased Dean of Social Work at UC-Berkeley) and Mark Courtney (Professor at UChicago)? What were your thoughts?

 

"In this provocative examination of the fall of the profession of social work from its original mission to aid and serve the underprivileged, Harry Specht and Mark Courtney show how America's excessive trust in individualistic solutions to social problems have led to the abandonment of the poor in this country.

A large proportion of all certified social workers today have left the social services to enter private practice, thereby turning to the middle class -- those who can afford psychotherapy -- and away from the poor. As Specht and Courtney persuasively demonstrate, if social work continues to drift in this direction there is good reason to expect that the profession will be entirely engulfed by psychotherapy within the next twenty years, leaving a huge gap in the provision of social services traditionally filled by social workers. The authors examine the waste of public funds this trend occasions, as social workers educated with public money abandon community service in increasing numbers."

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I haven't ever read it but I think that you can still reach poorer populations. I mean I know therapists who take government funded insurance, I just don't think it is fair to fault someone for wanting to go into that they deem their fit. I'm saying that as someone who would like to eventually go into private practice though. I would love to read that book.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The Crow: The book sounds very interesting and worthwhile, but I wonder why the authors are faulting social workers as "unfaithful," when it is our society's taxpayers who have decided that they don't want to pay taxes to support social services like social work for the poor. It seems that there is this expectation that social workers should be very willing to work for next to nothing - to see their careers as charity work. Has there ever been that same expectation of other vital public service providers, such as police officers, firemen, nurses or teachers?  (although teachers often get low wages, too)  Can you imagine state troopers being asked to work for $25,000 a year and with few benefits?  Social Work is a career heavily populated by women.  If it was a job with mostly men, do you think as many people would be promoting this idea that they should be willing to make lousy money?  Why should people who have achieved high levels of education and preparation for their careers be willing to accept pay so low that they can't decently support themselves and their families? I think that's an unreasonable demand of social workers. If and when our society decides to place any value on the lives and care of the poor, I believe plenty of social workers will be more than happy to serve them.  However, it is unfair for the taxpayers to expect that any professionals will work for free just so they can pay lower taxes. When our society places as much value on the lives and care of the poor as they do on fetuses, maybe we'll see reasonable salaries for social workers.  Until then, it's not fair to blame social workers for going where the money is.  They have bills and kids too.

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The Crow: The book sounds very interesting and worthwhile, but I wonder why the authors are faulting social workers as "unfaithful," when it is our society's taxpayers who have decided that they don't want to pay taxes to support social services like social work for the poor. It seems that there is this expectation that social workers should be very willing to work for next to nothing - to see their careers as charity work. Has there ever been that same expectation of other vital public service providers, such as police officers, firemen, nurses or teachers? (although teachers often get low wages, too) Can you imagine state troopers being asked to work for $25,000 a year and with few benefits? Social Work is a career heavily populated by women. If it was a job with mostly men, do you think as many people would be promoting this idea that they should be willing to make lousy money? Why should people who have achieved high levels of education and preparation for their careers be willing to accept pay so low that they can't decently support themselves and their families? I think that's an unreasonable demand of social workers. If and when our society decides to place any value on the lives and care of the poor, I believe plenty of social workers will be more than happy to serve them. However, it is unfair for the taxpayers to expect that any professionals will work for free just so they can pay lower taxes. When our society places as much value on the lives and care of the poor as they do on fetuses, maybe we'll see reasonable salaries for social workers. Until then, it's not fair to blame social workers for going where the money is. They have bills and kids too.

I keep trying to "like" this, which shows I've been spending a little too much unproductive time on another site. ;).

This is really well said; I've been thinking a lot about how this career path utilizes so called "feminine" traits and how that is related to the lack of respect and the lack of monetary reward. It seems crazy to me that a career that requires so much dedication an education is one that pays so little. As a single mother this has me truly concerned, enough that I still haven't decided if I will be attending a MSW program in the fall. I want to do good in the world, but part of the good I have to do is to support my daughter, both with my time and financially. That doesn't mean I've abandoned anything, it just means that I realize that I have value and that I don't need to sacrifice everything to be of use in the world. It's a tough call to me...how are we supposed to support others fully if we are constantly concerned with our own well-being?

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Figaro, you said it perfectly.  As Gloria Steinem as stated in the past, when a career is dominated by women, the pay and benefits are low, and the reverse is true when a field is dominated by men.

 

I think it is insulting that pay is so low -- this is such important and difficult work, and it feels like it would be worth more to agencies and the public.

 

I've seen jobs that require master's degrees and years of experience that are only willing to pay $25,000.  Really?!

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