The History of American Social Welfare Essay

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United States is a country of settlers, anti-immigrant sentiment has permeated public discourse and is damaging the social fabric of the nation. Early anti-immigrant sentiment is symbolized most powerfully by the Nativist movement, which closely resembled white supremacy (Committee on US-Latin American Relations, 2014). What fueled anti-immigrant sentiment included fears of losing jobs and other conflict theory perspectives showing how immigrants are perceived of as threats to the existing social order (Social Work Speaks). The NASW Policy Statement supports the rights of immigrants and refugees to live without discrimination.

Committee on US-Latin American Nations (2014). Similar Anti-immigrant rhetoric used throughout US history. Retrieved online:

NASW Policy Statement

Social Work Speaks

The pre-Civil War/antebellum era was tumultuous, with a series of failed political compromises leading to a breakdown of morals and ethics. At the same time, there were reform movements most notably the abolitionist movement, that took root as a response to the breakdown of civil society represented most notably by slavery (Buescher, n.d.). Children were valued as a source of work more then than in the 21st century (Buescher, n.d.).


Buescher, J. (n.d.). The era of reform. Teaching history. Retrieved online:

3. The Charity Organization Societies and the Settlement Houses addressed poverty differently. Coyne (n.d.) points out that settlement houses were "intended to serve a community of individuals by offering a broad range of services, while charities raise funds for various causes and organizations," and each treated people differently (p. 1). During the Civil War Era, both would have been helpful but charities especially so (Stern & Axinn, 2011).


Coyne, K. (n.d.

Stuck Writing Your "The History of American Social Welfare" Essay?

). Difference Between Settlement Houses & Charity Organization Societies. Retrieved online:

Stern, M.J. & Axinn, J. (2011). Social Welfare. Pearson.

4. The role of women during the Civil War was a precursor to the development of social work because women were channeled into gendered professions, which tended to be helping professions. Also, women were dealing with community management in the absence of men. If I were living in the era, I would align myself with any of the social work traditions described by Stern & Axinn (2011).


Stern, M.J. & Axinn, J. (2011). Social Welfare. Pearson.

5. The social work profession evolved in the 19th century. Both industrialization and urbanization led to the need for social services to address influxes of poor. Issues ranging from physical and mental illness to poverty needed to be addressed by volunteers within the social work framework, leading to the evolution of the Settlement House Movement and the Charity Organizations, the precursors to modern social work ("What is the History of the Social Work Profession?" n.d.).


Stern, M.J. & Axinn, J. (2011). Social Welfare. Pearson.

"What is the History of the Social Work Profession?" (n.d.). Retrieved online:

6. Social welfare agencies ironically discriminated against African-Americans, exacerbating the problems of racism in America. African-Americans frequently lacked access to equitable social services, and were also systematically excluded from participating in social work itself (Peebles-Wilkins, 2017). Segregation may have been the biggest problem, as African-Americans remain systematically disadvantaged due to generations of segregation and inequality.


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