Many books on radical and critical social work begin with a historical account of progressive practice in the early settlement movement of the Victorian era. Most, however, focus on the 1970s and early 1980s, when radical social work was at the forefront of debates on the future of the profession and its place in modern society. Contemporary forms of critical social work face challenges reminiscent of these earlier debates, with ongoing concerns about the applicability of social change theories for direct practice in social work. This chapter offers a thematic engagement with the origins of critical social work rather than a strict historically linear account of its development, for which there are already many published works available in North America (Reisch & Andrews, 2001), the UK (Lavalette, 2011; McLaughlin, 2008) and Australia (McDonald, 2007; Mendes, 2009; Pease, 2009a).
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