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Social Work History of Social Work in China
by
Peter Szto
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 September 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0198

Introduction

The history of social work in China is both long-standing and emerging. It was first introduced in the 1920s when American missionaries established social work in several university-based sociology programs. After the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949, the new government abolished social work, viewing it as an instrument of Western bourgeois capitalism. The government, however, reestablished social work in the 1980s in response to social problems that accompanied the economic reforms and modernization efforts of the same period. While social work education and professional practice remain nascent, their numbers are increasing at an unprecedented rate. Currently there are over two hundred social work programs, and the central government has established the goal of graduating two million social workers by 2020. This ambitious goal demonstrates China’s commitment to social work as a means of sustaining economic development and actualizing a “harmonious society.” Social work’s reintroduction in 1984 also prompted an emergent literature—in both Chinese and English. Still evolving, the literature is historically self-conscious as to cultural context and seeks to generate an indigenous model of professional practice.

General Overviews

The academic literature on the history of social work in China is young and developing. The early history from the 1920s through 1949 had few observers recording and reflecting on those days. In contrast, interest in the return of social work in the 1990s drew numerous observers curious about what ideology, knowledge, model of education, and practice skills would prevail in China. Leung and Nann 1995 is an invaluable text on how to understand the return of social work to China. One of the more poignant themes is the debate between developing indigenous knowledge versus importing Western forms of social work. A major work that addresses this debate is Tsang, et al. 2004, which skillfully analyzes China’s early and more recent social work beginnings. Yan and Tsang 2005 provides a follow-up snapshot but with more recent insights. And an even more current snapshot is Tsang, et al. 2008. Chi 2005 is a guest editorial that summarizes and contextualizes China’s social work history. The details of this history are organized and clearly laid out in Ngai 1996. A point of contention throughout the literature is to what extent foreign knowledge should be imported or whether social work should be an exclusively indigenous-based profession. Tsang and Yan 2001 outlines a path to move beyond the cumbersome East-West construct. Looking to the future, Xiong and Wang 2007 projects government policy initiatives to modernize how social work is practiced.

  • Chi, Iris. 2005. Social work in China. International Social Work 48.4: 371–379.

    DOI: 10.1177/0020872805053456Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A guest editorial on a “contextualized overview” of social work in China since 1922. The theme of change is noted throughout its history. Insights on China’s political economy and sociocultural dynamics explain the role of government and nongovernmental entities. Special attention is given to social work education and Hong Kong’s impact on China.

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    • Leung, Joe C. B., and Richard C. Nann. 1995. Authority and benevolence: Social welfare in China. Hong Kong: Chinese Univ. Press.

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      This is an excellent primer text that articulates a framework for exploring the history and cultural context of social work in China. The authors outline in clear terms the ideological shifts, political-economic underpinnings, and development of social work in China since 1922. The book also situates the historical narrative within Chinese thought and sensitivities.

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      • Ngai, Ngan-Pun. 1996. Revival of social work education in China. International Social Work 39 (July).

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        The historical timeline of social work education in China is detailed. It begins with the introduction of social work in 1922 with the establishment of sociology in Beijing and proceeds to the present. Of note is the role of the international social work community in analyzing how China incorporated and developed social work education.

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        • Tsang, A. Ka Tat, Rick Sin, Cunfu Jia, and Miu Chung Yan. 2008. Another snapshot of social work in China: Capturing multiple positioning and intersecting discourses in rapid movement. Australian Social Work 61.1 (March): 72–87.

          DOI: 10.1080/03124070701818740Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          The history of social work in China has been one of unprecedented change. The article analyzes the changes to understand future possibilities. The analysis weaves through stimulating insights into the role of Chinese identity from a multiperspectival stance.

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          • Tsang, A. Ka Tat, and Miu-Chung Yan. 2001. Chinese corpus, Western application: The Chinese strategy of engagement with Western social work discourse. International Social Work Journal 44.4: 433–454.

            DOI: 10.1177/002087280104400404Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            This is a comparative philosophical analysis of major social work themes in China and the United States. It explains critical differences and areas of common ground to develop an indigenous discourse. The analysis is mindful of China’s dynamic history, culture, and values. Its goal is to move beyond a false East-West dichotomy.

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            • Tsang, A. Ka Tat, Miu Chung Yan, and Wes Shera, eds. 2004. Social work in China: A snapshot of critical issues and emerging ideas; Proceedings of the International Colloquium in Beijing 2000. Toronto: Faculty of Social Work, Univ. of Toronto.

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              Proceedings of a seminal international conference on social work in China were organized into this major work. Over forty-five authors provide insight, analysis, and ideas on how social work in China could develop.

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              • Xiong, Yuegen, and Sibin Wang. 2007. Development of social work education in China in the context of new policy initiatives: Issues and challenges. Social Work Education 26.6: 560–572.

                DOI: 10.1080/02615470701456210Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                This is an analysis of the relationship between government policy initiatives and social work. In the recent past the government endorsed social work to sustain economic reforms and promote social stability. Future policy initiatives involve curriculum and field placement standards, the role of professional organizations, and tension between Western and indigenous models.

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                • Yan, Miu Chung, and A. Ka Tat Tsang. 2005. A snapshot on the development of social work education in China: A Delphi study. Social Work Education 24.8: 883–901.

                  DOI: 10.1080/02615470500342314Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                  The first systematic study of China’s social work educators, the findings of which underscore the political and tentative nature of social work. The Delphi method identified organizational dynamics, power differences, and personality issues in the social construction of curriculum and practice models.

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                  Conference Proceedings

                  The lack of social work education in China after 1952 created a significant gap in resources, practice knowledge, and trained personnel. The decision to restore social work involved not only training social workers but also having relevant knowledge, skills, and values. Holding conferences was an opportunity to generate knowledge while also engaging the international social work community. Proceedings from these gatherings are important sources of knowledge and ideas. The Fei 1985 study of elderly care is one of the earliest conference byproducts. Interestingly, the author foresaw structural changes and how they would affect social work practice. In addition, regional differences are important to take into account given China’s large land mass and cultural diversity. Chau 2002 sheds light on the western part of China because it is typically overshadowed by east-coast ideas. An important conference organizer since its establishment has been the China Association for Social Work Education (CASWE). It was organized in 1988 to promote social work education in China. Guan 2003 provides a critical summary of social work education in terms of past accomplishments and future directions, as well as a roadmap to professional socialization and formation. Two additional conferences, one in Beijing (Quanqiuhua Beijing xia shehui gongzuo jiaoyu fazhan guoji xueshu yantaohui) and the other in Shanghai (Zhishi, zhengce yu fuwu: Shehui gongzuo de dongxifang duihua), address how the East-West dialogue can be mutually beneficial.

                  • Chau, C. S. 2002. Zhongguo xibu de shehui fazhan he gongzuo jiaoyu (中国西部的社会发展和工作教育). In Zhongguo xibu shehui gongzuo jiaoyu huiyilu (中国西部社会工作教育会议录), 25–40. Kunming, China: Yunnan daxue.

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                    The economic reforms of the 1980s channeled resources primarily to China’s coastal urban centers. The reforms unintentionally created an imbalance between rural/urban and inland/coastal areas. The effect on social work education also concentrated resources in urban coastal universities. The author voices the need to develop programs and personnel equally inland.

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                    • Fei, X. T. 1985. The caring of the old in families undergoing structural changes. In Proceedings of the conference on modernisation and Chinese culture. Edited by Chiao Chien, 3–12. Hong Kong: Chinese Univ. of Hong Kong.

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                      Accompanying the economic reforms of the 1980s were dramatic structural shifts, including tolerance of the private economic sector and dismantling of state-owned enterprises. In turn, the shifts also affected social structures such as family patterns and traditional care-taking roles. These changes are described and analyzed for social work to consider.

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                      • Guan, X. P. 2003. Shehui gongzuo jiaoyu fazhan zai zhongguo de tiaojian he fenxi (社会工作教育发展在中国的条件和分析). In Zhongguo shehui gongzuo jiaoyu xiehui 2001 niandu huiyilu (中国社会工作教育协会2001年度会议录). Shanghai: Huadong ligong daxue chubanshe.

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                        CASWE Annual Conference held in Shanghai.

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                        • Quanqiuhua Beijing xia shehui gongzuo jiaoyu fazhan guoji xueshu yantaohui (全球化北京下社会工作教育发展国际学术研讨会), August 2005, Beijing.

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                          Gathering of international social work scholars in Beijing to confer, collaborate, and contextualize social work for China.

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                          • Zhishi, zhengce yu fuwu: Shehui gongzuo de dongxifang duihua (知识、政策与服务: 社会工作的东西方对话), 28–29 October 2007, Shanghai.

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                            Held in Shanghai, this international conference focused on the exchange of ideas on knowledge, policy, and service.

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                            Government Documents

                            The historical relationship between China’s government and social work has been uneasy. When social work was first introduced in 1922 it was imported by foreign missionaries with minimal government involvement. The outlawing of social work in 1952 was, however, a unilateral act of government. For the next thirty years China got along fine without social work, but when economic reforms were initiated in 1982, they were accompanied by extensive social problems. In 1984 the central government responded by authorizing its Ministry of Civil Affairs (Minzhengbu 2004) to reinstitute social work. The State Education Commission in 1986 formally launched social work programs at several leading universities and colleges. Programs quickly reappeared under the auspices of government initiatives, instead of private foreign ones as in the past. In 1988, the government permitted social workers to organize themselves into their own professional association—the China Association of Social Workers. In 1994 it also allowed the Chinese Association of Social Work Education to organize. The citations in this section are major government and professional organizations. Specifically, four primary government sources are listed. First, the China Social Work Education Association (Zhongguo shehui gongzuo jiaoyu xiehui 2000) is the accrediting body that sanctions all social work programs in China. Second, the sole professional organization for social work practitioners is the China Social Workers Association (Zhongguo shehui gongzuo xiehui 2001). Third, the Ministry of Civil Affairs (Minzhengbu 2004) is the main government entity charged with providing social welfare services. It shares this responsibility with an array of emerging nongovernmental agencies to protect the vulnerable and disenfranchised. Fourth is the Ministry of Education (Jiaoyubu 2004). This is the government agency that oversees all educational resources, including universities that house programs in social work.

                            • Jiaoyubu (教育部). 2004. Shehui gongzuo jichu kecheng de jiben jiaoxue yuanze (社会工作基础课程的基本教学原则). Beijing: Gaodeng jiaoyu chubanshe.

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                              Seeking to establish uniform standards for curriculum content in the increasing number of emerging social work education programs, in 2004 the Ministry of Education collaborated with the China Association of Social Work Education (CASWE) to establish ten foundation courses. The rationale and structure of these courses are described as curricular guidelines for future social work education.

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                              • Minzhengbu (民政部). 2004. Zhongguo shehui gongzuo de guojia biaozhun (中国社会工作的国家标准). Shanghai: Minzhengbu.

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                                Standardization of social work practice poses a challenge for China as it shifts from a cadre-based form of social service delivery to one involving a professional class. The professional class receives formal education on theory and practice methods applicable to a variety of settings. In 2004 the Ministry of Civil Affairs instituted four rankings to gauge the qualification of social workers. Each rank is related to formal social work education and relevant practice experience.

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                                • Zhongguo shehui gongzuo jiaoyu xiehui (中国社会工作教育协会). 2000. Dui zhongguo shehui gongzuo zhuanye jiaoyu de yanjiu (对中国社会工作专业教育的研究). Beijing: Zhongguo shehui gongzuo jiaoyu xiehui.

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                                  This study is an official government version of the development of professional social work education in China. It identifies key dates and events that explain the historical process that gave rise to social work, as well as its return. Emphasis is given to the strategic role of social work to build a harmonious society.

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                                  • Zhongguo shehui gongzuo xiehui (中国社会工作协会). 2001. Zhongguo shehui gongzuo xiehui de niandu baogao (中国社会工作协会的年度报告). Beijing: Zhongguo shehui gongzuo xiehui.

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                                    The China Social Workers Association is the country’s official organization for social work practitioners. This annual report details its structure and makeup, which includes three governmental bureaus: the Family and Marriage Work branch, the Rural and Urban Social Development branch, and the Civic Affairs and Rehabilitation branch.

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                                    Data Sources

                                    The Internet has been a tremendous resource for bridging gaps involving language, culture, and geography. The divide between the English-speaking West and China grows smaller every day, with increased access to information via electronic means. Key electronic sources listed below include the China Association of Social Work Education (CASWE). Its website (Zhongguo shehui gongzuo jiaoyu xiehui) provides information on the organization’s history, mission, structure, programs, and membership. The University of Toronto School of Social Work’s China Project describes a special program that offers a variety of events, meetings, and collaborative activities to deepen understanding about social work in China. Likewise, the University of Southern California School of Social Work’s China Program also offers special studies on social work education in China. Their focus is multidisciplinary, with an emphasis on educational innovation. The Katherine A. Kendall Institute is the international arm of the Council of Social Work Education in the United States. It just recently established the China Collaborative, which seeks to collaborate with Chinese social work schools to jointly develop more MSW programs in China.

                                    History

                                    In China, political ideology and social work have been intertwined since its introduction in the 1920s. Hu 2007 explains this dynamic by highlighting the political forces underpinning it from beginning to current times. Although social work was removed from the university curriculum after 1952, the ban did not inhibit charitable care and social relief from taking place even during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). The author of Bacon 1975 had the privilege of visiting China shortly before the Cultural Revolution ended and provides a first-person account of the discontinuity of “social work.” Her work offers keen insights into China’s cultural context to explain how social work first emerged and then reemerged. Leung 2006 further explains the practice of Chinese social assistance from a cultural and historical perspective. This perspective is important for appreciating the cultural forces shaping social work in China. Xia and Guo 2002 examines the history of social work but with an emphasis on public/private social interventions. The history of options in China is important for understanding how help itself is culturally determined. Writing on social work education, the authors of Yuen-Tsang and Wang 2002 imbed their analysis of curriculum within a similar historiography. The debate on indigenous social work is a theme that threads throughout the literature. Yan and Cheung 2006 explores the politics surrounding this debate and links it with social work identity. Yip 2007 extends this discussion by examining the proper role of government in social work education. Lin 2008 examines the historical development of social work while glancing at its future in uncertain political and economic environment.

                                    • Bacon, Margaret Hope. 1975. Social work in China. Social Work 20:68–69.

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                                      Bacon visited China in 1972 and offers a fascinating glimpse into how social problems were addressed by volunteers. The slogan “serve the people” motivated China’s masses to help as informal social work practitioners. Local, neighborhood-based service provision was the model versus institutionalization and centralization.

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                                      • Hu, Jie-rong. 2007. Political agenda and early social work development in China. Journal of University of Science and Technology Beijing 4:22–25.

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                                        When social work was first introduced into China in the 1930s by American missionaries, the Chinese government found itself accepting this foreign method because of its claims of solving social problems. The political discourse surrounding this beginning is examined in terms of social work’s nature and societal role.

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                                        • Leung, Joe C. B. 2006. The emergence of social assistance in China. International Journal of Social Welfare 15:188–198.

                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2397.2006.00434.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                          A vital component of social work in China is the country’s social security system. Government social assistance programs are central as a social safety net. The main program is the Minimum Living Standard Guarantee System, which targets the most vulnerable. It is means-tested and urban-based. How this program continues or does not is relevant to social work.

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                                          • Lin, Xiao-qui. 2008. The development of social work professional education in China. Journal of Social Work 1.

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                                            The history and development of professional social work education in China is analyzed. The purpose is to examine its origins, current challenges and issues, and future directions in a political and economic environment of change.

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                                            • Xia, Xueluan, and Jing Guo. 2002. Historical development and characteristics of social work in today’s China. International Journal of Social Welfare 11:254–262.

                                              DOI: 10.1111/1468-2397.00222Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                              This article places contemporary social work education within historical context to evaluate future practice. Details reveal a tradition of public/private social intervention. In the 20th century, China continued to provide voluntary services alongside social work.

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                                              • Yan, Miu Chung, and Kwok Wah Cheung. 2006. The politics of indigenization: A case study of development of social work in China. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 33.2: 63–83.

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                                                The notion of recontextualization, or indigenization, is of a political process in the context of its Chinese history. The history is important because of the complexity of China’s culture, economics, and social development. Knowledge of the politics and competing forces are vital to understanding how China can effectively develop its own social work identity.

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                                                • Yip, Kam-shing. 2007. Tensions and dilemmas of social work education in China. International Social Work 50.1: 93–105.

                                                  DOI: 10.1177/0020872807071485Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                  This historical overview provides context to analyze the reemergence and development of social work education in China. It questions the role of government and scope of its ideological framework in this process. Close attention is given to the interaction between “politicization, professionalization and commercialization” of social work.

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                                                  • Yuen-Tsang, Angelina W. K., and Sibin Wang. 2002. Tensions confronting the development of social work education in China: Challenges and opportunities. International Social Work 45.3: 375–388.

                                                    DOI: 10.1177/0020872802045003366Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    This article provides a concise overview of social work history in China. The authors identify current tensions between micro or macro perspectives and explore whether curriculums should be standardized or contextual.

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                                                    Social Welfare Theory

                                                    The arrival of Western foreigners brought both benefits and risks. Risks involved uncritical adaptation of Western theories as well as a creeping cultural imperialism. One benefit was the idea of professionally trained social workers and non-Chinese perspectives on social welfare. Chung and Haynes 1993 theorized a framework of social welfare grounded in Confucian thought. The authors argue that a common point of contact between East and West is the construct of person-in-environment. Yan 1998 articulates a more nuanced critique of person-in-environment and disputes its fit with Chinese culture. Chan and Tsui 1997 explores the continuities and discontinuities of the welfare state from antiquity to the present. The authors argue for theoretical sensitivity to better understand contemporary social work. Lastly, the impact of theory and ideology on social welfare development between Chairman Mao and Premier Deng Xiaoping is explored in Xing 1999.

                                                    • Chan, Raymond Kwok-hong, and Ming-sum Tsui. 1997. Notions of the welfare state in China revisited. International Social Work 40:177–189.

                                                      DOI: 10.1177/002087289704000205Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      Although the concept “welfare state” is a modern construct, in China evidence suggests that state-sponsored welfare existed in antiquity. The concept is traced through China’s political history as a backdrop for analyzing China’s contemporary welfare state as the context for social work.

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                                                      • Chung, Douglas, and Alphonso W. Haynes. 1993. Confucian welfare philosophy and social change technology: An integrated approach for international social development. International Social Work 36:37–46.

                                                        DOI: 10.1177/002087289303600104Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        The seminal ideas of Confucius are used to develop a non-Western approach to social development and social work practice. The approach is relevant to the discourse on indigenous knowledge for social work in China. Of particular importance are the ingredients of a Confucian social welfare system and its emphasis on persons in environment.

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                                                        • Xing, Li. 1999. The transformation of ideology from Mao to Deng: Impact on China’s social welfare outcome. International Journal of Social Welfare 8:86–96.

                                                          DOI: 10.1111/1468-2397.00070Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          China’s social welfare system is discussed in terms of ideology. The political thought of Chairman Mao and Premier Deng are analyzed as transforming social welfare provisions. Mao saw social problems as minimal and handled collectively. Deng’s shift to economic development, vis-à-vis capitalism, introduced extensive social problems that required social welfare intervention.

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                                                          • Yan, Miu Chung. 1998. Social functioning discourse in a Chinese context: Developing social work in mainland China. International Social Work 41:181–194.

                                                            DOI: 10.1177/002087289804100206Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            A central theory that distinguishes social work from other fields and professions is social functioning. The notion of persons and their environments in interaction has been a hallmark of Western social work education since the 1970s. It is contested whether this idea is culturally appropriate for China.

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                                                            Social Work Knowledge

                                                            Since its beginning the knowledge base of social work in China has been controversial. Concerns about validity, authenticity, and cultural fit were raised because it was foreigners who introduced social work. Misgivings about this accommodation continue to bother critics. Today, accusations of cultural imperialism and epistemological insensitivity taint the discourse on social work knowledge. The authors of Chan and Chan 2005 enter the fray with a comparative analysis about ways of knowing. Central to their study are the differences between Chinese and Western cognitive frames. Taking a slightly different tact, Yan and Tsui 2007 studies how motives influence social work knowledge. Yip 2004 explores the issue of global standards and claims to universality. Another important measure of knowledge is the definition of social work. Gray 2010 tackles this with an in-depth review of the indigenization literature in relation to defining social work in China. Gray’s critical summary is refreshing for its practical insight. Seeking to develop an evidence-based approach, Cheung and Liu 2004 is a groundbreaking study using Chinese women to develop an indigenous model of social work knowledge.

                                                            • Chan, Ko Ling, and Cecilia L. W. Chan. 2005. Chinese culture, social work education and research. International Social Work 48.4: 381–389.

                                                              DOI: 10.1177/0020872805053461Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                              Western and Chinese ways of knowing are compared in relation to social work education in China. Whereas traditional Chinese learning is practical and knowledge is tacit, Western ways emphasize abstraction and theory. These differences are important for understanding how Western social work might be adaptable in China.

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                                                              • Cheung, Maria, and Meng Liu. 2004. The self-concept of Chinese women and the indigenization of social work in China. International Social Work 47.1: 109–127.

                                                                DOI: 10.1177/0020872804039390Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                The authors are concerned about the appropriate transfer of knowledge from West to East in developing an indigenous model of social work education for China. They first critique Western philosophical assumptions and then proceed to develop empirical evidence regarding the self-concept using Chinese women as their population sample.

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                                                                • Gray, Mel. 2010. Indigenization in a globalizing world: A response to Yunong and Xiong (2008). International Social Work 53:115–127.

                                                                  DOI: 10.1177/0020872809348962Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  This is a critical response to the theoretical analysis of indigenization by scholars from China. The scholars welcome Western-style social work and are suspicious of indigenization literature. An overview of this literature is offered as a rebuttal. The insights are important for how China formulates social work in the future.

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                                                                  • Yan, Miu-Chung, and Ming-Sum Tsui. 2007. The quest for Western social work knowledge: Literature in the USA and practice in China. International Social Work 50.5: 641–653.

                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/0020872807079924Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    Critiques American social work knowledge and concludes it is neither monolithic nor universal. The authors also evaluate whether Western notions of professionalization and mission are relevant for China.

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                                                                    • Yip, Kam-Shing. 2004. A Chinese cultural critique of the global qualifying standards for social work education. Social Work Education 23.5: 597–612.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/0261547042000252316Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      This is a critique of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) and International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) document on global standards. It questions whether it is culturally relative because of its Eurocentric orientation. Chinese culture is wholly different, making the document’s claim to universality problematic.

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                                                                      Indigenous

                                                                      Indigenous knowledge is a major subtheme of social work knowledge in China. Although American social work knowledge was first, the desire for a Chinese informed social work has been long sought. This subtheme was the subject of a lively debate between 2007 and 2008 in one of social work’s more prestigious international journals. The central point of contention is what cultural authority should be privileged—Chinese or Western? Touching off the debate were two British social work professors, Anna Hutchings and Imogen Taylor (Hutchings and Taylor 2007). Their outsiders’ view of developments within China drew an immediate rebuttal by Chinese scholar Cunfu Jia (Jia 2007). Leung 2007 entered the fray offering insights from Hong Kong included a more nuanced and historical frame. Writing from South Africa, the author of Sewpaul 2007 argued that a global perspective was needed in the debate. Hutchings and Taylor responded to their critics with points of clarification and challenges in an attempt to seek common ground (Hutchings and Taylor 2008). Cheng 2008 summarizes the debate, outlining how China could develop an indigenous model of social work within a global context. Finally, adding to the debate is Gray 2008, based on a critical analysis of indigenization.

                                                                      • Cheng, Sheng-Li. 2008. A response to the debates between Hutchings and Taylor and Jia on the global standards in China. International Journal of Social Welfare 17:396–399.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2397.2008.00587.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        Summarizes debates on how China develops an indigenous model. Author uses dialectical and historical perspective to analyze the IFSW IASSW document Global Standards for Social Work Education and Training.

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                                                                        • Gray, Mel. 2008. Some considerations on the debate on social work in China: Who speaks for whom? International Journal of Social Welfare 17:400–406.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2397.2008.00603.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          The question “Who speaks for whom?” is raised regarding how China develops an indigenous model of social work. Whether outsiders know better than native Chinese scholars frames this analysis. Makes relevant points on perspective, philosophical frame, and cultural validity.

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                                                                          • Hutchings, Anna, and Imogen Taylor. 2007. Defining the profession? Exploring an international definition of social work in the China context. International Journal of Social Welfare 16:382–390.

                                                                            DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2397.2007.00494.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                            Defining social work frames this discussion. The authors detail the beginning, banning, and reemergence of social work education to contextualize universality as formulated by the IFSW in 2000. It challenges whether a Western perspective as normative is valid versus a reference point for an indigenous approach.

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                                                                            • Hutchings, Anna, and Imogen Taylor. 2008. Correcting misconceptions about the development of social work in China: A response to Cunfu Jia. International Journal of Social Welfare 17:102–104.

                                                                              DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2397.2007.00541.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              This is a balanced response to the debate on a global definition of social work. It seeks common ground to clarify misunderstandings on “evidence” and “applicability.” Barriers of language, distance, and communication are also acknowledged. False dichotomies between East-West and us-them limit dialogue and meaningful cross-cultural communication.

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                                                                              • Jia, Cunfu. 2007. Correcting misconceptions about the development of social work in China: A response to Hutchings and Taylor. International Journal of Social Welfare 17:98–101.

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                                                                                This is a critical response to Hutchings and Taylor 2007. It is important in terms of its discussion of substance, cultural perspective, and power. The reaction symbolizes how issues are framed and articulated and the language used to express ideas.

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                                                                                • Leung, Joe C. B. 2007. An international definition of social work for China. International Journal of Social Welfare 16:391–397.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2397.2007.00495.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  The author analyzes China developing its schools of social work toward an international definition. An international definition is proposed as a working platform for dialogue and exploration. Developments in the 21st-century in Shanghai are also explored as the showcase for social work education.

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                                                                                  • Sewpaul, Vishantie. 2007. Challenging East-West value dichotomies and essentialising discourse on culture and social work. International Journal of Social Welfare 16:398–407.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2397.2007.00496.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    The article is part of a debate on the suitability of a global definition of social work for China. The author contests “essentialising” Chinese and Western culture and advocates instead transcending one’s parochial frame. It sharply critiques neoliberalism, colonialism, and imperialism.

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                                                                                    Social Work Education

                                                                                    Between 1952 and 1984 China used volunteers and a large cadre of government workers to provide social services. After the economic reforms of the 1980s the central government realized that these workers needed formal training, making social work education important. Shi 2004 evaluates China’s recent history of social work education but from a global perspective. Chen 2002 also reviews this history and recommends specific ways for the workers to attain professional status. Integral to enhancing status and the educational process is student feedback. The authors of Gu and Luo 2009 interviewed social work students to learn from their experiences. The findings are relevant to deciding how best to improve training with scarce resources. The authors of Yan, et al. 2009 interviewed students as well to assess the utility of Western methods with Chinese students. Defining what constitutes “professional” is important. Tasse 2008 underscores the value of a social development perspective in social work education. This is relevant to China’s goal of developing its own professional work force. Wang 2006 suggests another way to professionalize is to transform the current cadre workers into social workers through formal training. Implementing the ideas generated in the early 21st century is taken up in Yuen-Tsang 2011. The author recommends developing a capacity-building approach rooted in evidence-based programs. Toward this end, Wang 2004 examines the phenomenal growth of social work programs, with a strategic eye toward maintaining the fast pace, while retaining China’s unique cultural heritage.

                                                                                    • Chen Wei 陈微. 2002. Shehui gongzuo zhuanye jiaoyu de buzu ji dingwei (社会工作专业教育的不足及定位). Zhongguo qingnian zhengzhi xueyuan xuebao (中国青年政治学院学报).

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                                                                                      This is a historical critique of the reemergence of social work education in the 1980s and subsequent proliferation of social work programs. The quality, coherence and level of professional stature are wanting. Recommendations are to improve learning goals and objectives, develop indigenous knowledge sources and design curricular.

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                                                                                      • Gu Jiangxia 顾江霞 and Luo Guancui 罗观翠. 2009. Ziyuan zhengh shijuexia de shegong rencai peiyang moshi tantao—yi zhongshan daxue 05MSW peiyang moshi weili (资源整合视角下的社工人才培养模式探讨—以中山大学05MSW培养模式为例). Huadong ligong daxue xuebao shehui kexueban (华东理工大学学报社会科学版).

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                                                                                        The need to train and educate professional social workers is significant. MSW students at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou were interviewed about the training they received. The findings are informative regarding the strategic use of resources to advance learning and training.

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                                                                                        • Shi Bonian 史柏年. 2004. Xinshiji: Zhongguo shehui gongzuo jiaoyu miandui de xuanze (新世纪:中国社会工作教育面对的选择). Beijing keji daxue xuebao (北京科技大学学报).

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                                                                                          This article provides a comprehensive overview of social work education in China since the 1980s. It details key events, persons, policies, and processes and makes strategic recommendations for a model of social work unique to the Chinese and global context.

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                                                                                          • Tasse, Abye. 2008. Social work education in China: Development and perspectives. International Social Work 51.1: 123–124.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.1177/0020872807083922Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            This essay is a brief yet telling endorsement from IASSW of a developmental perspective when it comes to social work education in China. The reasons are compelling and worthy of further reflection and dialogue.

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                                                                                            • Wang Sibin 王思斌. 2004. Feixiediao zhuangxing beijingxia zhongguo shehui gongzuo jiaoyu de fazhan (非协调转型背景下中国社会工作教育的发展). Beijing keji daxue xuebao (北京科技大学学报) 20.1: 24–29.

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                                                                                              Since 2000 social work education in China has developed at an unprecedented pace—there are currently over two hundred programs. The pace is analyzed in relation to the central government’s ambitious policy of balancing social harmony with economic development. Insights are discussed in relation to China’s goal of modernization and retaining cultural privileges and practices.

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                                                                                              • Wang Sibin 王思斌. 2006. Tizhi zhuanbianzhong shehui gongzuo de zhiyehua jincheng (体制转变中社会工作的职业化进程). Beijing keji daxue xuebao (北京科技大学学报) 20.1: 24–29.

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                                                                                                A central question for social work in China is how to educate and equip the next generation of social workers. One strategy is to transform the current cohort of government cadre workers (Ministry of Civil Affairs) into professional social work practitioners. The process of transformation is detailed as a road map toward professionalization.

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                                                                                                • Yan, Miu Chung, Zhong-Ming Ge, Sheng-Li Cheng, and A. Ka Tat Tsang. 2009. Imagining social work: A qualitative study on students’ perspectives on social work in China. Social Work Education 28.5: 528–543.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/02615470802368959Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  Very little has been written about social work students’ perspectives in China. An international team conducted an exploratory study to uncover this perspective. Findings included students’ learning experiences, the cultural compatibility of Western social work in China, and optimism about the future.

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                                                                                                  • Yuen-Tsang, Angelina. 2011. Capacity building programme for social work educators in China: An IASSW global initiative to support emerging social work programmes. International Social Work 54.2: 290–293.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/0020872811398746Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    This article describes an initiative by the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) to help China build curriculum capacity for its various schools of social work. The IASSW sponsored workshops on curriculum development with participants from inside and outside China. An informative piece in that it offers insights into current trends and possibilities.

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                                                                                                    Model Building

                                                                                                    The future shape of social work education is unknown. Scholars have been vigorously debating and deliberating curricular issues to map out the best model of social work for China. The sources in this section were selected from the emergent literature because of their keen insights on model building. Yao 1995 focuses on the role of government and structural shifts that may or may not impede government’s capacity to maintain social control. In China, balancing government and nongovernment actors is considered key to harmonious social work development. Xiong 2005 argues that if the government broadens its perspective and allows other sectors to play an active role in social provisions, it will accelerate progress. Adding to the discourse on model building, Zhou 2009 offers diffusion theory as an alternative to welfare statism where government dominates social work.

                                                                                                    • Xiong Yuegen 熊跃根. 2005. Zhuanxing shiqi zhongguo shehui gongzuo zhuanye jiaoyu fazhan de lujing yu celue: Lilun jieshi yu jingyan fansi (转型时期中国社会工作专业教育发展的路径与策略:理论解释与经验反思). Huadong ligong daxue xuebao shehui kexueban (华东理工大学学报社会科学版).

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                                                                                                      The irregular history of social work in China requires a coherent and self-conscious strategy. Regional differences demands a divergent strategy involving local curricular needs and socioeconomic variation. The analysis suggests the government should rethink how it integrates contextual factors in planning and implementation.

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                                                                                                      • Yao, Jinchao. 1995. The developing models of social work education in China. International Social Work 38:27–38.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/002087289503800103Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        The path China chooses for social work education is measured in terms of cultural competency. In particular, the influence of government on curriculum and practice values are analyzed, that is, the role of family in caretaking responsibilities. A multilevel and multistructured approach is suggested for China.

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                                                                                                        • Zhou Limin 周利敏. 2009. Kuangsanlun: Dalu shehui gongzuo jiaoyu yanjiu de xinmoshi (扩散论:大陆社会工作教育研究的新范式). Guangzhou daxue xuebao shehui kexueban (广州大学学报社会科学版).

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                                                                                                          This article argues for an indigenous approach. It proceeds from a critical analysis of the history of social work in China and then seeks to move beyond its Western mooring. Diffusion theory is a viable alternative to globalization and Westernization because of its contextual sensitivities to Third World countries like China.

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                                                                                                          Field Education

                                                                                                          A distinguishing feature of social work education is field education. The idea is to apply classroom academic in an agency setting with social work supervision. This feature of social work education is new for China but an exciting area of development. In response to this innovation, Ku, et al. 2005 presents an indigenous model of field education specifically for China. Wang 2006 also recognizes the value of field education and the need to develop effective placements in a systematic manner. A significant contribution to this discussion, Wong and Pearson 2007, is the first study on student field placement experiences. This study revealed interesting findings on professional identity and attitudes about the future of social work. Another critical dimension of field education is the relationship between social work programs and agency. The author of Gao 2009 interviewed agency directors and frontline workers to identify areas of conflict. The aim was to minimize gaps in communication between field placements and academic programs. Using a first-person approach, Tong 2007 is a reflection piece on field experience but from the perspective of social work educator. This is an engaging article that links field education with service delivery in relation to applying Western social work concepts in a Chinese setting.

                                                                                                          • Gao Wanhong 高万红. 2009. Shehui gongzuo zhuanye jiaoyu yu shehui fuwu jigou de chongtu yu tiaoshi (社会工作专业教育与社会服务机构的冲突与调试). Beijing keji daxue xuebao shehui kexueban (北京科技大学学报社会科学版).

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                                                                                                            As social work graduates enter professional practice, conflicts arise between educators and social service agencies. This author interviewed five agency directors and frontline social workers to identify areas of conflict. Solutions were recommended based on an analysis of possible causes.

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                                                                                                            • Ku, Hok Bun, Sik Chung Yeung, and Pauline Sung-Chan. 2005. Searching for a capacity building model in social work education in China. Social Work Education 24.2: 213–233.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/0261547052000333144Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              The history of social work is the context for developing social work education in China. The main challenge is to remain sensitive to this history while developing an indigenous practice model. The authors suggest a “scholarship in practice” scheme for field education because of its empowering of rural communities.

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                                                                                                              • Tong, Min. 2007. Reflection on social work field education in mainland China: A journey to become a professional social work educator. Social Work Education 26.6: 645–648.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/02615470701456608Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                A first-person narrative written by a social work educator, this is a creative reflection piece on issues, struggles, and recommendations for improving field education. Topics investigated include the connection between field experience and the service delivery system and conducting research. Most noteworthy are the challenges of applying Western concepts to the Chinese context.

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                                                                                                                • Wang Yin 王寅. 2006. Woguo shehui gongzuo jiaoyu de kunjing yu chulu (我国社会工作教育的困境与出路). Lianyungang shifan gaodeng zhuanke xuexiao xuebao (连云港师范高等专科学校学报).

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                                                                                                                  Social work education in China has witnessed phenomenal growth in new university programs and student admissions in the 21st century. The fast pace placed a high demand on faculty, curriculum, and field placements. Three areas pose challenges for the system: specialization, occupational identity, and socialization to the profession.

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                                                                                                                  • Wong, Yu-cheung, and Veronica Pearson. 2007. Mission possible: Building social work professional identity through fieldwork placements in China. Social Work Education 26.3: 292–310.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/02615470601049883Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    Field placement is integral to social work education. The first cohort in a joint program between the University of Hong Kong and Fudan University in Shanghai were interviewed to assess their field placement experiences and commitment to professional identity. The findings are instructive regarding future directions involving curriculum, models, and social impact.

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                                                                                                                    Practice

                                                                                                                    A hallmark of professional social work is the provision of tangible services. Cheng 2008 argues that how services should be provided is a matter of debate. For example, the notion of global standards should be contested, particularly if it is appropriate and compatible with Chinese culture. Pearson and Phillips 1994 extends this line of reasoning to mental health practice. The authors caution against an uncritical adaptation of Western methods, and are also highly wary of an indigenous model. On the other hand, Sung-Chan and Yuen-Tsang 2008 promotes an indigenous approach by embracing a “reciprocal-reflective” model. The model seeks to reduce the gap between theory and practice.

                                                                                                                    • Cheng, Sheng-Li. 2008. A response to the debates between Hutchings and Taylor and Jia on the global standards in China. International Journal of Social Welfare 17:396–399.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2397.2008.00587.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      This article is part of the debate on an indigenous model of social work practice. A historical-dialectical perspective is taken to analyze the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) document on global standards.

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                                                                                                                      • Pearson, Veronica, and Michael Phillips. 1994. Psychiatric social work and socialism: Problems and potentials in China. Social Work 39.3: 280–287.

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                                                                                                                        The care of persons with mental illnesses in China has historically been a family responsibility. The need for psychiatric social workers is posited, although caution is urged about uncritical adaption of Western approach. A tentative alternative framework suggests maintaining family involvement and professionally trained psychiatric social workers.

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                                                                                                                        • Sung-Chan, Pauline, and Angelina Yuen-Tsang. 2008. Bridging the theory-practice gap in social work education: A reflection on an action research in China. Social Work Education 27.1: 51–69.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/02615470601141383Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Government and nongovernment organizations have historically provided social services in China. The reemergence of social work provides an opportunity to create an indigenous model of social work practice. A “reciprocal-reflection” approach is proposed that is collaborative and flexible and reduces the knowledge gap between theory and practice.

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                                                                                                                          Ethics

                                                                                                                          Developing an indigenous model of social work for China has preoccupied the scholarly discourse more than any other topic. Attention to social work ethics thus remains underdeveloped but in due course will need careful reflection. The relevance of ethics will emerge as practitioners enter fields of practice and encounter dilemmas. Zuo 2007 is on the forefront of this conversation in an interesting way.

                                                                                                                          • Zuo Peng 左鹏. 2007. Jidujiao lilun yu shehui gongzuo jiazhiguan—cong zhongguo shehui gongzuo jiaoyu de xianshi kunnan tanqi (基督教伦理与社会工作价值观—从中国社会工作教育的现实困境谈起). Beijing keji daxue xuebao (北京大学学报).

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                                                                                                                            A provocative thesis on how to increase enrollment in China’s burgeoning number of social work programs. The authors ground their argument in social work history, recognizing that American missionaries introduced social work. They propose Christian ethics as a “new” basis to develop social work education.

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