Community Work

  • Glynis M. Breakwell
  • Colin Rowett


Together with casework and groupwork, community work is usually seen as one of the three basic ‘methods’ available to social workers. Chronologically the most recent, it is taken to represent a reaction to the essentially individualistic orientation of casework and groupwork. With its greater interest in the role of social structures in both generating and determining the form of certain types of individual problems, it has from time to time been viewed as a means of saving social work and social workers from the tunnel vision generated by working for lengthy periods with problems presented purely at an individual level. More importantly, it has contained an implicit and sometimes explicit assumption that social work clients are not having their best interests served by contact with social workers who favour purely casework or groupwork ‘methods’. The argument is that caseworkers are more likely to ‘pathologize’ the client, that is, see the source of the problem as lying within the client, rather than in the larger social structures that surround the client. Community work is accredited with a more visionary zeal, a greater readiness to grapple with some of the more fundamental issues in contemporary society. Rein (1970) was in no doubt about where the future of social work should lie:

Redistribution, social justice, and participatory democracy are the crucial issues for change today. Social work must find its contribution to these ideals. It cannot rest content by working with the institutional fallouts of an inequitable system or by seeking to reduce public dependency by the use of social services.


Social Work Group Membership Social Identity Community Work Participatory Democracy 
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Copyright information

© Van Nostrand Reinhold (UK) Co. Ltd. 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Glynis M. Breakwell
    • 1
  • Colin Rowett
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of SurreyUK
  2. 2.Social Work DepartmentBroadmoor HospitalUK

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