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Schism Between Jane Addams and Mary Richmond:

Jane Addams and Mary Ellen Richmond were two prominent figures in the early development of the social work profession, and while they shared a commitment to social reform and the welfare of individuals and communities, they had differing perspectives on the role of social workers and the methods they should employ in their advocacy and action.

  1. Jane Addams:
    • Perspective: Jane Addams, known for her work at Hull House in Chicago, advocated for a more holistic and community-based approach to social work. She believed that social workers should be deeply embedded within communities, living and working alongside the people they were trying to help. Addams emphasized the importance of understanding the root causes of social problems and addressing them through systemic change.
    • Method: Addams believed in direct engagement with the community, fostering relationships, and facilitating self-help and empowerment. She was an advocate for policy reform and actively participated in social and political movements, striving to bring about broader societal change.
  2. Mary Ellen Richmond:
    • Perspective: Mary Richmond, on the other hand, was a proponent of a more structured and professionalized approach to social work. She argued for the development of systematic methods, data collection, and case management to provide effective social services. Richmond believed in the importance of social work as a distinct profession, separate from other charitable activities.
    • Method: Richmond’s approach was more focused on individual casework, where social workers assessed and addressed the specific needs of clients through standardized procedures. She also emphasized the role of research and data in guiding social work practice.

Contemporary Schisms in Social Work:

In contemporary social work, similar schisms persist, often revolving around differing perspectives on the profession’s purpose, methods, and priorities. Some key contemporary schisms include:

  1. Micro vs. Macro Practice:
    • Micro Practice: This approach emphasizes individual and family interventions, often in a clinical or therapeutic context.
    • Macro Practice: Advocates for this approach prioritize systemic change, policy advocacy, and community organizing to address broader social issues.
  2. Strengths-Based vs. Deficit-Based:
    • Strengths-Based Practice: Focuses on identifying and building on clients’ strengths and resilience.
    • Deficit-Based Practice: Concentrates on identifying and mitigating clients’ weaknesses and problems.
  3. Professionalization vs. Grassroots Activism:
    • Professionalization: Some social workers advocate for strict adherence to established professional standards and ethics.
    • Grassroots Activism: Others argue that social workers should be more directly involved in social and political movements to address structural inequalities.

Impact on Ethical Obligations:

These schisms in contemporary social work can hinder social workers from fulfilling their ethical obligations in several ways:

  1. Limited Collaboration: When professionals in different subfields of social work do not collaborate effectively, it can restrict their ability to provide comprehensive care and address both individual and systemic needs.
  2. Ethical Dilemmas: Social workers may face ethical dilemmas when their personal values and beliefs clash with the dominant approach in their field, potentially compromising the quality of care they provide.
  3. Ineffective Advocacy: Schisms can dilute the collective voice of the profession when advocating for policy changes or challenging social injustices, making it harder to bring about meaningful systemic change.
  4. Client-Centered Focus: The divide between micro and macro practice can sometimes result in a lack of attention to the interconnectedness of individual and systemic issues, potentially harming clients and communities.

In conclusion, while schisms in social work reflect the diversity of thought and practice within the profession, they can also impede social workers’ ability to fulfill their ethical obligations by limiting collaboration, creating ethical conflicts, hampering advocacy efforts, and undermining the holistic approach needed to address complex social issues effectively. To promote ethical practice, social workers must strive for a more integrated and inclusive approach that bridges these schisms and recognizes the importance of both micro and macro perspectives in achieving meaningful social change.






Describe the schism that developed between Jane Addams and Mary Richmond with respect to an understanding of the social work profession through policy advocacy and action.

Describe similar schisms that exist in contemporary social work.

  • Explain how the contemporary schisms prevent social workers from fulfilling their ethical obligation(s).
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