CHAPTER XII
Social Work: Potential Profession

Do we not all seek to be professional,
To have degrees and status, and respect?
To feel the world's esteem and know that
All one does is right and good and just?

Institutionalization, tradition, ethics, income‐
These go with the word "profession," so 'tis said.
A word with magic, to roll upon the tongue,
To tell one's children, to tell one's self.

Why not make social work professional?
No doubt it can be done.We live surrounded
By a vast array of experts.Let us then
Make our social workers expert, too.

But much must first be done before the word
"Profession" can be truly won.To that task
Let the intellectuals and the worthy leaders
Give their all.Then shall we not applaud?

Is SOCIAL WORK a profession? This question is a vital and yet painful subject, one made no easier to discuss by the world-wide disagreement over which occupations are professions.Clear thinking on the nature of professions in fluid societies appeared in an editorial in a British periodical in 1957. Certain vital characteristics were noted.Professions have been "the repositories of particular virtues upon which liberal civilization rests." These occupations have "mastered the art of combining personal independence with public service based on a freely accepted corporate discipline." Their practitioners, moreover, are "devoted to a craft practiced according to principles which are unaffected by calculations of social unity."

In the United States the professions are by no means easily or sharply distinguished from other vocations or occupations. An acknowledged expert wrote in the preface to Education for the Professions, in 1955, that "the professions are the occupations through which people obtain the highly specialized intellectual services."

-245-

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