The History of the Professionalization of Social Work: Lesson for the Field of Conflict Resolution


The disciplines of conflict resolution and social work are similar in a variety of ways. Both fields are established on a tradition of altruistic volunteers and professionals, who in seek flexible solutions to complex social problems, and both have an interdisciplinary knowledge base that is grounded in practice as well as academic theory. From 1900 to 1930, the field of social work underwent a transition from a loosely organized, volunteer-driven, disconnected group of dedicated individuals to a cohesive network of paid professionals with standards for practice and education. This paper explores that transition in social work and draws lessons from it for the field of conflict resolution, to project how the process of professionalization could affect conflict resolution.

Author Bio(s)

Toran Hansen, received his Master of Science degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from Nova Southeastern University's Graduate School of Humanities & Social Sciences. He is presently a Ph.D. student in the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota. Toran has worked as a mediator and facilitator for the Palm Beach County Courthouse, Nova Southeastern University, and Minnesota’s Department of Corrections. He can be reached at toranhansen@yahoo.com.


academic theory, conflict resolution, interdisciplinary knowledge base, paid professionals, professionalization of social work, volunteer-driven

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