Historical Development of Social Work to Demonstrate the Theory of Convergence

Term Paper, 2003

12 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Explanatory approaches to the development of social work and social pedagogy

3. History of Social Work
3.1 Why did social work come into being?
3.2 The Middle Ages
3.3 Beginning of modern times
3.4 Absolutism and Enlightenment
3.5 Industrialisation
3.6 Empire and Weimar Republic
3.7 National Socialism
3.8 German Democratic Republic
3.9 Federal Republic of Germany

4. Summary

5. Reflection


1. Introduction

I fully agree with the following quote from Zeller:

"A study of social work and social pedagogy that is taught without history, that is, that does not ask about its roots, remains largely only on the surface of its professionalisation."

Because I find the history of social work very important for understanding social work today.

In my opinion, the historical development of social work/social pedagogy is the basis for a professional self-understanding. In order to make it clear to myself which profession I choose, I have to know the history of this profession, why it exists at all and why in this form.

Looking at the historical lines of development makes it clear that social work/social pedagogy on the one hand is to be understood from history until today, on the other hand that it is also a history of terms and their interpretations. In part, the same words are used to describe new contents - which also leads to misunderstandings.

2. Explanatory approaches to the development of social work and social pedagogy

There are various views and theories on the relationship between social work and social pedagogy in relation to historical development. Albert Mühlum classifies these views into seven theorems:

- Divergence theory: Social work and social pedagogy are two clearly separate areas of action due to their history. Combining the two into one overall area would mean renouncing basic social services. The generic term is "social pedagogy", as this is the much older term.
- Identity theory: The terms "social work" and "social pedagogy" are completely in agreement. They are used interchangeably.
- Substitution theory: The terms "social work" and "social pedagogy" are interchangeable at will, which is very close to the theory of identity.
- Subordination theory: Social pedagogy and social work are in a relationship of superordination. The representatives of the theorem do not agree on which term is the superordinate.
- The subsumption theory: Social work and social pedagogy have clear occupational differences. However, they are both subject to the system of action of the generic term "social work".
- The alternative theory: The terms "social work" and "social pedagogy" should be replaced by new terms. This is to solve the problem of confusion caused by the inaccurate separation of social work and social pedagogy. One way is to replace social work with "social therapy" and social pedagogy with "social education". There is no generic term.
- Convergence theory: The fields of social work and social pedagogy are approaching each other by converging and growing together. Representatives of this theory are committed to even closer cooperation between the areas in practice. The generic term is "social work".

As a result, there are also different theories on the historical development. Since I am personally against breaking social work down into individual elements and see it in theory as a whole - as a network of elements that could not exist individually - I apply the convergence theory in the following to present the history of social work and social pedagogy.

3. History of Social Work

3.1 Why did social work come into being?

In the Middle Ages, it was common for the extended family, the relatives or, if this was no longer sufficient, the neighborhood, the village, to take care of the poor and disabled.

The starting point for the emergence of social work and social pedagogy is that this care was soon no longer sufficient and the villagers alone were not able to prevent poverty. Public care became necessary to prevent or limit disease and misery in the population.

Today's social fields of work, social pedagogy and social work, have the same historical roots, developed separately with the end of the Middle Ages into two independent areas of the social system.

3.2 The Middle Ages

Due to wars and diseases, the poverty in the villages increased so much that the problem could no longer be solved by the family. As a result, the public welfare of the poor arose.

It was to be regarded as an independent offer of help. Their benefit system included, firstly, adult care and, secondly, child care.

A distinction was made between material poverty, which was seen as the reason for adult poverty, and moral poverty, which was the reason for the poverty of children. Material poverty was mainly economic failure. Moral poverty was understood to be neglect and inadequate education of children.

Thomas Aquinas developed a theoretical model of poverty. His view of the social order said that the common good stands before that of the individual, which is why the individual has to subordinate himself to society. The social order, so v. Aquinas, be natural and willed by God. This meant that poverty was a necessary level for society, so it should not be fought through care, but should be maintained.

For begging said Aquinas, in addition to praying and fasting, giving alms to beggars is the unconditional duty of a Christian and a chance to buy himself free from sins committed. This means that the maintenance of poverty is therefore also necessary for the enrichment of the rich.

The personal, financial help for the poor was thus given by spontaneous alms, with which the rich freed themselves from their sins.

The organized assistance for the poor was possible through the hospital, where the health care of the poor was provided. The hospital was the first starting point for the organization and institutionalization of care.

The bearers of public welfare were churches, monasteries and orders, which received and hosted everyone, as well as wealthy individuals who helped through foundations from their own assets.

3.3 Beginning of modern times

Begging was viewed from a changed perspective at the beginning of modern times. Begging was now seen as a plague. Therefore, the beggar was no longer supported by alms from the faithful.

Calvinism and humanism were the reform movements that were now widespread, which viewed poverty as self-blame and, based on the Christian faith, introduced the obligation to work.

Urban poor welfare:

Through municipalization, the responsibility for the awarding of alms passed from the church to the city council. The cities now received more and more foundations from wealthy individuals. The local communities therefore only provided for the poor of their own city.

The rationalisation has established certain criteria which entitle to the receipt of welfare benefits. As a result, the financing of poor welfare is developing from religious charity to a rational, socio-political strategy.

With bureaucratization, an administrative apparatus for the welfare of the poor was established. Beggars, with the emergence of criteria of neediness, become the outlawed fringe group of society.

Through education, the poor should be taught rules of conduct such as diligence, order, discipline, morality. Through job creation programs, they were educated to work.

The Nuremberg Begging Order was intended to enable the poor children to lead a life without having to beg.

In addition, schools for poor and orphans were established.

Juan Luis Vives developed a theoretical model of poor welfare. This included the principles: Compulsory work, providing the poor with work, individualization in the care of the poor, education in the care of the poor.

3.4 Absolutism and Enlightenment

Among the rural population, the number of poor people increased considerably.

New institutions have been established in the field of poor care and welfare for the poor. There were poorhouses, breeding and workhouses, as well as orphanages.

This meant that there was more care especially for children.

Begging was forbidden. The beggars had been given work or sent to prisons.

The composition of the inmates of prisons was mixed, there lived beggars, prostitutes, "work shy", sick, old, "mad", "defiant" children.

Thomas Robert Malthus developed a theoretical model of poor welfare. He was of the opinion that people would populate the earth so much that the earth could not produce enough food to feed everyone. Misery and hardship are therefore laws of nature.

Malthus was in favour of oppressing the poor instead of supporting them, as poverty slows down population growth. He wanted to restrict the social rights of the poor even further.

3.5 Industrialisation

Education played a major role in child and youth welfare. Orphanages took over the education of the poor children, but they did not offer them sufficient preparation for everyday life as adults.

Johann Hinrich Wichern was one of the first educators to change this. What was new was the idea of family education.

In this context, Wichern founded the rescue house movement in Hamburg. His concept of family education in educational institutions included:

- Construction of "small family houses" with ten to twelve orphans or poor children
- order of the child-parent relationship; if possible, the preparation for the return to one's own family
- Training of educators in the "Rauen Haus", who should take over the management

Initial approaches to infant care were provided by:

- Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi around 1770 with concepts for domestic education by the mother
- Johann Friedrich Oberlin 1771 with "Strickschulen" for children
- Theodor Fliedner around 1830 with the establishment of a new profession - infant teachers in a Protestant toddler school and diaconal institution
- Julius Fölsing around 1840 with the foundation of a preschool with a training center for educators

Friedrich Fröbel developed the concept of kindergarten in 1840 - based on the existing concepts of family education. In it, he defined four essential functions of the kindergarten: First, the kindergarten fulfills the preparation of the children for school and for their further life. Secondly, it offers the possibility of training educators in the institution. Thirdly, the development of suitable toys for the promotion of children is an important part of the concept. Fourthly, technical discussion should be encouraged.

Between 1851 and 1860, kindergarten was prohibited. Fröbel died in 1852 with the uncertainty of whether his concept of kindergarten would prevail. For he did not know:

Henriette Schrader-Breymann is the founder of the Pestalozzi-Fröbel Haus, an educational school in Berlin. Around 1860, it made a significant contribution to the spread of kindergarten throughout Germany.


Excerpt out of 12 pages


Historical Development of Social Work to Demonstrate the Theory of Convergence
Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences Berlin AS
Catalog Number
historical, development, social, work, demonstrate, theory, convergence
Quote paper
Svenja Bialk (Author), 2003, Historical Development of Social Work to Demonstrate the Theory of Convergence, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1161584


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