By Malcolm Payne and Steven Shardlow.
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
ISBN 185302 833 9
Comparative studies in social policy and social services have
proliferated in recent years, with a heavy concentration on Europe.
This book differs by concentrating on practice comparisons between
the countries of the British Isles.
The title suggests that the book is about social work but the
coverage is necessarily much broader. The focus and main value of
this text is the comparison of how history, culture and national
identity affect the provision of social care and social work
practice in the different countries. For example, why is it that
Scotland has a reputation for being progressive in its social
policy and social work?
Progressive measures have included the setting up of its social
work departments in the early 1970s, the establishment of
children’s panels, and the recent decision to provide free
residential care for older people.
The book is clearly written, with writers keeping to a similar
structure for their chapters. A cautious conclusion is that the
similarities in social services and social work are greater than
the differences across the countries that comprise the British
Isles – but it is the differences that are particularly
Brian Munday is senior lecturer in international social
care, University of Kent.