Learner Support Service
This article reports ways in which applicants to the degree in social work see ‘social problems, their origins and possible solutions to them. What is demonstrated is that, whilst applicants are concerned about a range of problems, those which could be broadly classified as ‘anti-social behaviours by individuals or groups’ predominate, in contrast to those which could be defined as ‘aspects of the social structure which have an adverse impact on individuals or groups. Applicants are much more likely to suggest ‘individual’ rather than ‘social’ causes and are most likely to suggest ‘liberal/reformist’ solutions. It is argued, in the context of frame analysis, that pre-existing views will usually impact strongly on how students respond to the knowledge and challenges offered during training. The article aims to place discussion within the consideration of wider issues. In particular, whether social work in Britain can maintain its historic commitment to social justice and prevent itself from becoming an increasingly uncritical tool of the UK government’s social authoritarianism. Finally, it seeks to raise questions about whether social work education can assist qualifying workers to develop and maintain resiliently radical approaches to practice, which are also effective in bringing positive change to vulnerable and disadvantaged people.