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What Is Professional Social Work?

Second Edition

Malcolm Payne

Publication Date - 01 July 2006

ISBN: 9780190615864

248 pages
6 x 8.8 inches


How has the identity of social work and social workers developed over time? What is the nature of contemporary social work compared with other helping professions? How does American social work compare with social work in other countries? Where do the core values of American social work fit into an international perspective? How can students and practitioners improve their practice and increase social progress?

What Is Professional Social Work? gives social workers and other mental health professionals a clear and internationally grounded discussion of the place of social work in multiprofessional care. Filled with practical and accessible tools, this book offers new ways to consider and value a social worker's specific professional identity within the complex environment of professional practice.

Social work educators can use this new book in capstone courses, field work seminars, social work practice courses, courses on international social work, and even introduction to social work and social welfare.

Malcolm Payne connects the argument of Modern Social Work Theory and Teamwork in Multiprofessional Care with the analytical perspective and case studies in this book.


  • Focuses on the nature and identity of social work and social workers
  • Argues that social work is a discourse between three aspects of practice: social order, therapeutic, and transformational views
  • Analyzes the interaction of organizational, social, and power relations
  • Analyzes international forms of social work created by different welfare regimes
  • Includes a preface written by the author specifically for this first American edition
  • Includes a full bibliography which enables readers to explore topics of personal interest

About the Author(s)

Malcolm Payne is the director of psycho-social and spiritual care at St. Christopher's Hospice in London. He is emeritus professor at Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom. He has been extensively involved in international social work, leading and working on projects to develop social work and social policy in Russia, China, and Eastern Europe. He has written 10 books and 250 shorter works published in 13 languages, including the best-selling Modern Social Work Theory as well as Teamwork in Multiprofessional Care. He is also co-author of Social Work in End-of-Life and Palliative Care.

Table of Contents

    Foreword by Stephen C. Anderson
    One Introduction: the social work discourse
    Two The identity of social work
    Three Social work as a practice
    Four Social work values: social justice and social care
    Five Social work, management and the agency
    Six Social work, power and society
    Seven Social work: profession among professions
    Eight Social works: global and local
    Nine Social work: (inter)personal, political and professional