Social work is primarily a development of this century. It is the art-and the science-of bringing various resources to bear on individuals, groups and community needs by the application of scientific methods to help people help themselves.
Social workers attempt to alleviate and prevent social problems, caused by such factors as poverty, unemployment, illness, broken homes, family maladjustments, physical, mental and emotional handicaps, anti-social behavior, limited recreation and inadequate housing.
Historically, social work was carried out by persons who volunteered their services for philanthropic activities. Today with the advancement of civilization social problems are more complex and social work needs groups of workers with special skills in preventive, promotive and corrective methods.
Long regarded as a low-paying though soul-satisfying profession concentrating on the under-privileged in society, social work has today broken free from these shackles. It is now a multidimensional field, which encompasses criminology and correctional administration, industrial relations Personnel management, medical and psychiatric social work and various other fields offering lucrative financial returns.
While social work is largely a field-oriented exercise involving interaction with people, it also includes institutional work like counseling services, career guidance and legal support.
Social work has traditionally been the domain of women. It is felt that women make far better social workers than their male counterparts. However the number of men in the profession has recently witnessed a major increase.
Since social work is primarily a practical, service profession, beside theoretical knowledge and practical skills, a bent of mind for service and an attitude of willingness to help are imperative.