Clement Attlee and the social service idea: Modern messages for social work in England

Dickens, Jonathan (2018) Clement Attlee and the social service idea: Modern messages for social work in England. British Journal of Social Work, 48 (1). pp. 5-20. ISSN 0045-3102

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Clement Attlee is most famous for being the Labour prime minister of the UK after the Second World War. It is less well known that he was a social worker and a social work lecturer on either side of the First World War, before he was elected to parliament in 1922. He had even written a book about it: The Social Worker, published in 1920. This paper describes Attlee’s time as a social worker and social work lecturer, setting his experiences and the book in the context of the times, especially the tensions and overlaps between ‘individualist’ and ‘collectivist’ understandings of society. It outlines Attlee’s vision of social work, and considers the ongoing relevance of his understandings of social work and society. In particular, the paper highlights Attlee’s notion of ‘the social service idea’. This brings together four essential elements of social work—that it should be radical, relationship-based, realistic and reciprocal. Attlee’s social service idea, and his individual example, still offer guidance and inspiration for social work today.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: social work history,social policy,values
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Social Work
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Groups > Child Protection & Family Support
Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Centres > Centre for Research on Children and Families
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2017 01:41
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2023 14:30
DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bcx025


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