European Social Work

European Social Work

Compare and contrast the main features of two European Social Welfare and Social Work systems

This essay seeks to compare and contrast the different welfare models of England and Wales and that of Germany, taking into account key features which are similar and different in their approaches within a social and historical context. This essay concludes with a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the social work and social welfare systems, and the relevance of globalisation upon social welfare and the implications for social work.

England’s social welfare was modelled upon Anglo-American values of capitalism, political liberalism and individualism. Germany’s model is a corporatist, or middle European model, based on family subsidiarity, Catholic intervention, social integration, and has a decentralised social market economy (Adams et al 2001).

England’s system of state welfare like other parts of Europe, arose in response to the social consequences of industrialisation (Ritter 1983). Prior to this England and Wales distributed poor relief under the 1601 Poor Law Act, providing state welfare to those considered to be deserving, assessing their entitlement on the contingency criteria of; unemployment, disability, being elderly, an orphan or a widow. Individuals who were considered to be undeserving of state relief were publicly humiliated, with the threat of the workhouse introduced from the early 1700s, critiqued as a harsh system of discipline, and disruptive to family ties (Payne 2005).

According to (Staub-Bernasconi 2007), Germany’s poor laws were correlated to England, in that they also provided an early form of poor relief and state social welfare to marginalised groups such as those described in England. However the social welfare reform objectives of both countries were different as England’s reforms were in response to mass poverty, whilst in Germany, the purpose of social insurance legislation was to impede the threat of...

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