Where Does it Begin? A Comparative Perspective on the Professional Preferences of First-year Social Work Students

Idit Weiss, John Gal, Ram A. Cnaan, Rea Maglajlic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The goal of this paper is to contribute to a better understanding of international social work by examining the professional preferences of students at the beginning of the social work training process in the United States, Great Britain and Israel. The study, upon which the paper is based, examined the preferences of the students with regard client groups, social services, types of sectors and of practices, and sought to identify the similarities and the differences between these preferences in different countries. The findings indicate that the students from the United States and Israeli universities prefer to work with social groups and to be employed in services, that can be defined as "less stigmatic", while these trends were not identifiable in the case of the British students. They expressed a greater readiness to work with more needy social groups and to find employment in the state sector. By contrast, the students in all the universities studied expressed a similar unwillingness to work the unemployed, the chronically ill and to find employment in old-aged homes. In addition, casework with individuals was the most preferred type of social work practice. Clearly, the findings indicate that the preferences of students in different countries reflect variations in the nature of social work in each of the specific national settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-608
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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