Is Social Work A Profession? (1915)

Early in his presentation, Abraham Flexner said: “…However, I have not been asked to decide whether social work is a full-time or a part-time occupation, whether, in a word, it is a professional or an amateur occupation. I assume that every difficult occupation requires the entire time of those who take it seriously, though of course work can also be found for volunteers with something less than all their time or strength to offer. The question put to me is a more technical one. The term profession, strictly used, as opposed to business or handicraft, is a title of peculiar distinction, coveted by many activities. Thus far it has been pretty indiscriminately used. Almost any occupation not obviously a business is apt to classify itself as a profession. Doctors, lawyers, preachers, musicians, engineers, journalists, trained nurses, trapeze and dancing masters, equestrians, and chiropodists-all speak of their profession.