Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Social service-Vocational guidance, Love, Queer theory, Autonomy (Psychology), Fromm, Erich, 1900-1980, Peck, M. Scott (Morgan Scott), 1936-2005., Butler, Judith, 1956-, Social work, Professionalization


The 1915 National Conference of Charities and Corrections, during which Abraham Flexner stated that social work was not a profession because it lacked a "communicable technique", is understood as a historically significant event in social work history. Part of the discourse regarding the legacy of this conference has spoken to social work's struggle with comprehending the nature of its purpose and definition as a profession. In this thesis I explore the phenomenon of social work, understood as a profession, and how its professionalization may contribute to its struggle in developing a comprehensive practice method that makes its stated values of justice and full self-determination of the individual intelligible. I look at love as theoretically formulated by Erich Fromm and M. Scott Peck in what they offer in regarding love as a practice, and queer theory in exploring the social and political situation of social work and to illuminate the diversity and multiplicity that is inherent in social work and its humanistic origin. Through this exploration on a struggle for a definition, I posit that this challenge comes from the field attempting to understand itself within the structure of professionalism and academia, both of which value empirical inquiry and scientific positivism in social theory over creative engagement with an inquiry on love and human connection.




iii, 109 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 98-109)