Print Сite this

Is Social Worker a Profession?

Social work is a significant activity in society as it aims at providing assistance to those in need, promoting better living conditions, and improving the social environment. It is a relevant topic for discourse these days because many people are involved in social practices; however, the dispute appears if this activity is a profession. Abraham Flexner attempts to answer this question in his article “Is Social Work a Profession.” However, the writer notices that his experience with social work is limited; thus, some conclusions might be debatable and unconvincing for the readers. This paper aims to analyze the article and clarify the author’s perspective that social work cannot be called a profession in a technical sense.

We will write a
custom essay
specifically for you

for only $16.05 $11/page
308 certified writers online
Learn More

To start with, Flexner raises essential research questions in his article, which include the definition of a “profession” and its distinction from an amateur activity. Moreover, he indicates a few primary characteristics of an occupation, which can help analyze every practice in terms of expertise. Finally, Flexner (2001) hypothesizes that social work cannot be called a profession in the strict sense of the word and tries to prove the statement with a series of arguments. As for sources the writer uses in his paper, he draws on his experience and interviews during the research. Besides, he provides the definition and description of social work based on The Bulletin of the New York School of Philanthropy.

First of all, Flexner defines the word “profession”, which is essential for readers to understand the term and take it into account while reading the article. He provides several characteristics of being professional and gives examples of diverse occupations; therefore, he compares them and explains their peculiarities. The author applies six features of a profession to various activities such as plumbing, and banking physician and argues if these jobs fit them or not.

These criteria include intellectual operations, based on science and learning, practical approach, intellectually communicable technique, self-organization, and altruistic motivation (Flexner, 2001). Flexner estimates and describes every quality of the occupations mentioned above, and finally, concludes their expertise. This approach is practical because similarities and differences between various work types show that all features cannot be applied to every single occupation; thus, these qualities are flexible.

Secondly, Flexner illustrates how the qualities apply to social work. He undergoes every single characteristic and argues if they fit the definition of “profession”. His primary finding is that social work is not restricted in terms of employment (Flexner 2001). Consequently, it is challenging to apply it to a limited and strict definition of a “profession”. Furthermore, the author argues that a social activity’s vague description complicates the workers’ training because this occupation is connected with many other institutions and practices such as medicine of law system (Flexner 2001). Another finding is as follows: although social work possesses some qualities of a profession, it still lacks most of them.

To be more specific, social work is based on academic and scientific training that satisfies one of the criteria (Flexner 2001). Moreover, it involves an altruistic approach in motivation and is practical and mediating (Flexner 2001). However, the social workers’ responsibilities are vague, and these activities fail to indicate definite professional fields compared with medicine, law, architecture, and so on. Thus, Flexner concludes that social work cannot be restricted to fit the term “profession”.

The article’s advantage is that Flexner realizes that his conclusion might seem quibbling for the readers. The writer understands the questions that can be asked after reading; therefore, he anticipates arguments and clarifies his opinion. The author provides several arguments against his point of view and claims that although social work is crucial in society, it lacks the necessary characteristics to be called a profession. Flexner’s paper does not try to underestimate the value of social activities but to explicate the definition. The writer uses the definite terms and specific examples to clarify and illustrate his opinion, and this makes his article easy to understand and see the matter of the topic.

Get your
100% original paper
on any topic

done in as little as
3 hours
Learn More

New information that can be learned from the article includes six criteria that Flexner illustrates to define the term profession and how these characteristics can apply to social work. And the interview with the social workers’ trainers explains that it is hard to find an educational program to teach students because of vagueness. This field involves much knowledge from various professions such as law, medicine, and so on; consequently, it complicates the education and training programs for future social workers.

Summing up, Flexner clearly states his hypothesis on the nature of social work and concludes that it fails the criteria of a profession; thus, this practice cannot be called a profession in a technical sense of this word. The author provides comprehensible arguments, which support their thesis; moreover, he illustrates his conclusion with examples. The writer also compares social work to other professions to show the differences in terms of professional fields. The article is written in a straightforward and easy to understand way for readers; moreover, it demonstrates contradictory arguments and explains their nature.


Flexner, A. (2001). Is social work a profession? Research on Social Work, 11(2), 152–165.

Cite this paper

Select style


StudyCorgi. (2022, June 3). Is Social Worker a Profession? Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2022, June 3). Is Social Worker a Profession?

Work Cited

"Is Social Worker a Profession?" StudyCorgi, 3 June 2022,

* Hyperlink the URL after pasting it to your document

1. StudyCorgi. "Is Social Worker a Profession?" June 3, 2022.


StudyCorgi. "Is Social Worker a Profession?" June 3, 2022.


StudyCorgi. 2022. "Is Social Worker a Profession?" June 3, 2022.


StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Is Social Worker a Profession'. 3 June.

This paper was written and submitted to our database by a student to assist your with your own studies. You are free to use it to write your own assignment, however you must reference it properly.

If you are the original creator of this paper and no longer wish to have it published on StudyCorgi, request the removal.