This interesting book fills a gap in the international social work literature and is accessible to social work lecturers and students. While it is inspiring and informative to read of the many ways in which social work is defined and conducted in Japan, Mongolia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, Aspalter’s argument that ‘the normative theory of developmental social policy can as a matter of fact, easily be understood and applied by all sides’ (p. 9) feels at odds with the extraordinarily varied conceptions of social work in the country chapters and in the concluding chapter. The tables in Appendices 1.1 and 1.2 (pp. 10, 11) are not really explained in the introduction and do not appear to sufficiently justify their overarching theoretical perspectives. However, the editor has attracted distinguished contributors from eight countries in East Asia, introduced levels of comparison for welfare state systems and tracked the development of social work in contrasting countries with polarised political systems from communism to capitalism. The economic and policy basis for the provision of social work is examined with regard to each of the eight countries and pressing social issues significant to each country are revealed—for example, the significant number of refugees travelling to Hong Kong after the People’s Republic of China was created and the extent of poverty and social deprivation in the Philippines . This book charts the rise of social work activity and the expansion of professional social work in East Asia often provided through non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This opening-out of social work into new territories is explained through the impact of globalisation, mass migration and the growth of NGOs in response to war, disaster and international concerns about children’s rights and welfare. In this fascinating kaleidoscope of East Asian countries, it is a disappointment that, while there are references to China in the introduction and Chapter Five addresses the relationship between social work in Hong Kong and China, there is no chapter specifically about social work and China, the country that most readers would identify as a major influence in East Asia. Social work academics and students will find this book a valuable addition to their knowledge of international social work and will want to read and consider each very different chapter. Key areas for social work intervention such as trauma, trafficking and bereavement and loss are covered but, more importantly, this book will encourage students to develop a critical understanding of global social issues and think about how their social work practice might develop in different ways. This book is important in developing knowledge of social work as an international profession and in growing a knowledge base of social work in East Asia. The countries selected for the book are expanding at different paces in their requirements for training, registration and practice. Recently there has been a lively debate within professional, educational and online networks about whether international social work is necessary as part of the curriculum for social work programmes. This book reinforces the view, alongside the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW), that educating social workers as part of an international movement for change and solidarity in challenging and tackling issues is crucial. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
The British Journal of Social Work – Oxford University Press
Published: Jul 1, 2018
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