Describe the schism that developed between Jane Addams and Mary Richmond with respect to an understanding of the social work profession through policy advocacy and action.

Since the early days of the profession, social workers have viewed their role and mission in a variety of ways. For instance, some social workers like Jane Addams view the role of a social worker as best actualized when advocating for social reforms such as housing regulations, stronger policies that protect workers, and programs that aid those in need (Jansson, 2018, p. 28). On the other hand, other social workers like Mary Richmond have viewed rehabilitating the individual as the most appropriate intervention (Montalvo, 1982, p. 104). While Addams’approach places a greater emphasis on systemic issues, Richmond’s approach may be perceived as emphasizing the idea that an individual’s challenges stem from their own choices and circumstances.

Describe similar schisms that exist in contemporary social work.
Similar to the schism between the perspectives held by Addams and Richmond, social workers are divided today when it comes to the place of macro-level practice in the profession (Hill, 2010, p. 514). While the profession’s history is rooted in progress made through macro-level practice, social workers may argue against the efficacy of macro-level practice, feeling that it fails to produce adequate change in the circumstances faced by their clients (Hill, 2010, p. 514). As a result, social workers are far more likely to be engaged in micro-level practice, providing interventions such as counseling and linking clients to available resources.

Explain how the contemporary schisms prevent social workers from fulfilling their ethical obligation(s).
While the reluctance of society to change for the improvement of life for all people may make macro-level practice difficult, this form of practice is challenged further when social workers are divided on the issue. By failing to produce a united front, social workers negatively impact their ability to advocate for the positive changes which would significantly aid their clients and those in similar circumstances. While micro-level practice addresses immediate needs of individuals, this form of practice may be viewed as producing a similar result as what one would expect when placing a bandage on a wound.


Hill, K., Ferguson, S., & Erickson, C. (2010). Sustaining and Strengthening a Macro Identity: The Association of Macro Practice Social Work. Journal of Community Practice, 18(4), 513–527.

Jansson, B. S. (2018). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social justice (8th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Montalvo, F. F. (1982). The Third Dimension in Social Casework: Mary E. Richmond’s Contribution to Family Treatment. Clinical Social Work Journal, 10(2), 103–112.

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