Rediscovering the social question
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The origins of social work can be regarded as a response to the emergence of ‘the social question’ in the context of the industrial revolution of the 19th century. Through the fundamental changes in social relationships, caused by economic dislocation and revolutionary challenges to political power structures, ensuring the coherence of societies became a ‘project’ which had to be attended to, organised and shaped according to principles which came to be central reference points of modern social life such as liberty and equality. Since then, social work has become enlisted in actively contributing to the various ways in which this so-called ‘social question’ can be answered, or more concretely, how social solidarity can be defined and secured under the conditions of an industrial society. This historical contingency influenced the nature and public reputation of this profession lastingly. Its development was therefore always advanced by the urgency and form with which ‘the social question’ was treated in public debate and in politics.