Social Policy for Social Work

By Robert Adams.
ISBN 0 333 77473 6

Adams has, through his writing, made a
significant contribution to social work in the last decade. Here,
he explores the territory occupied by social policy and social
work. The subjects have much in common, but, as Adams says, the
relationship between them is not always clear.

The book reviews the ground covered by
mainstream social policy teaching – income maintenance, housing,
employment, health. There are also chapters on family policy and
criminal justice.

The chapter on “issues” covers matters of
concern to social workers – how their departments are financed and
managed, and who controls them – and Adams successfully profiles
the turbulent and complex reality of social services. The reader
can detect an awareness of the internal contradictions that often
characterise policy analysis, but is not left with a clear idea of
the author’s own strategic vision.

Prescriptions for practice are of the kind
that it is impossible to disagree with but which fail to do justice
to the psychology of human or institutional relations. As
practitioners, he says, “we should be more demanding of our
employers”. Social workers love that kind of talk, but it doesn’t
mean that they understand the interface between social policy and
social work.

Martin Davies is a professor of social
work, University of East Anglia.


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