The uses of social science in the history of Dutch social work, 1900-1980

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In this paper the author reviews the history of dutch social work between 1900 and 1980 and tries to shed light on how dutch social workers enlisted various insights developed by the social sciences to gain jurisdiction in dealing with social problems. He argues against the simplistic idea that scientific knowledge is merely applied in practical settings such as social work. Social workers did not just apply scientific insights; they also used scientific insights strategically to demarcate their position from various opponents both inside and outside the profession. It is useful to differentiate between the reflexive and strategic uses of social sciences: reflexive means that new interpretations of the social world and the nature of social problems are offered which imply different ways of doing social work; strategic means that with these new interpretations new boundaries are created between social work and competing actors in the field of dealing with social problems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-53
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Work
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999


Dive into the research topics of 'The uses of social science in the history of Dutch social work, 1900-1980'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this