Relation between Social Work and other Social Disciplines

Social Work with Sociology, Political Science, Psychology, Statistics, Anthropology, Economics, Ethics

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Relation between Sociology and Social Work

Sociology, as generally understood, is the study of society. The study of society implies the study of human beings, their interrelationship, and their relationship with the immediate social environment. To be precise and specific, the subject matter of sociology includes:

§  Social Morphology: it encompasses matters like population, its qualities, social groups, social institutions, organisation etc.

§ Social Processes: Cooperation, competition, conflict, accommodation, adaptation, assimilation, adjustment and socialisation etc., which are essential for meeting human needs.

§  Social Control: religion, tradition, folklore, morality, beliefs, laws, values, etc.

§ Social Pathology: Crime, delinquency, suicide, unemployment, corruption, family disorganisation, poverty, climate change issues etc.

Thus, it can be seen that sociology deals with humanitarian organisations, their structure, their relationship, gaps underlying the psycho-social needs, and social interactions, which are essential for maintaining a decent standard of living in society.

Social work derives ample knowledge from sociology because the psycho-social problems of individuals, groups or communities cannot be diagnosed and solved without knowing their social environment.


The knowledge base of sociology is essential for social workers because of the following factors:

Sociology as a discipline studies different patterns of interactions of individuals and groups. In contrast, social work is responsible for solving the problems of these individuals and groups through the group work process. Hence, to better understand and solve individual or group problems, the social worker must look at sociology.

§  Social environment plays a vital role in shaping an individual's life by affecting their attitude and behaviour. Hence, without having adequate knowledge about the components of social settings for the individual, change cannot be brought in man. Therefore to gain such understanding, social workers depend on sociology.  

§  Individual behaviour is mainly conditioned by culture, tradition, folkways, values, norms, beliefs, etc. these are the constituents of the culture studied in sociology. Therefore, it is essential to study sociology to solve the problems borne out by cultural malfunctioning.

§   In social work, the knowledge about social roles and expectations of individuals is of great significance. Maladjustment is felt when an individual fails to play his role according to his position, leading to many social problems. It also hampers the expectations of others and leads to social disturbance. Therefore, the social worker tries to understand the roles and expectations by studying sociology.

§  Social work studies life, community relations, and social developmental characteristics. The function of social work is not only to solve psycho-social problems but also to enter into the field of social development. This work is possible only when the characteristics of groups and communities are studied. This knowledge is derived from the study of sociology. 

§  The knowledge about social problems and their factors forms an integral part of the body of knowledge of social work because it is known that the main aim of social work is to solve psycho-social problems. This part of social work has been borrowed from sociology.

§  Sociology also deals with social processes like cooperation, competition, conflict, accommodation, adaptation, assimilation, adjustment, socialisation etc., the knowledge about which is essential for social work practice hence form the part of social work theory.

Thus, the contribution of sociology to the development of social work theories cannot be denied.


Relation between Psychology and Social Work

Psychology, as generally understood, is the study of the mind. Mc Dougall has called it "the positive science of conduct and behaviour." Murphy, another thinker of psychology, has defined it as "the science that studies living individuals' responses to their environment. Psychology examines the general principles of human attitude and behaviour. The fundamental laws of motivation, perception, learning, memory, thinking etc., are universal to all human beings, irrespective of the culture and social environment they were brought up in. As a study of the mind, psychology studies an individual in the abstract. It analyses the mental aspects of individuals through an individualistic approach with particular emphasis on the internal qualities of an individual and their manifestations in terms of behaviour.


The theory of social work has an intimate relationship with the idea of social work because, in solving individual and group problems, it attempts to study individuals from their mental perspective. It studies individuals' social psychology, which is concerned with behavioural and social issues. This knowledge is essential for social work practice as it is concerned with individual needs and problems.

A social worker helps an individual after studying his attitude, perception, learning ability, internal quotient, etc. These are significant parts of an individual's personality. Very often, problems of individuals stem from the inadequacies of these factors and take the form of social issues. For this reason, a social worker needs knowledge about different dimensions of these factors as he tries to affect the behaviour of the individual concerned and tries to make necessary modifications for inducing the problem-solving process. Hence, a decent part of the knowledge of psychology has been incorporated into the theory of social work.


Relation between Economics and Social Work

In his definition of economics, Marshal emphasised the welfare aspect of human beings. In his words, "Economics on one side is the study of wealth; and on the other hand a part of a study of man". As a branch of knowledge, it deals with wealth, but it is concerned with wealth because it studies man's actions regarding how he earns wealth and how he spends it towards meeting his needs. It is a social science learning how people attempt to accommodate material scarcity to their wants.

Fulfilling the material needs of an individual is an important aspect and closely connected with social life. Hence, the economic part of life is a vital factor in his growth and development. His personal and social life is affected to a great extent by economic conditions.

Social work as a profession primarily deals with the problems of man and society. Problems for individuals and society arise due to the unfulfillment of their material needs. Therefore, social workers have to look into the economic condition of individuals and society before taking steps the solution to their problems. Social and economic conditions are interconnected and interrelated. Therefore, studying a man's financial situation is vital while looking at his social need for growth and development. For this reason, while formulating social work theories, adequate care has been taken to include some relevant parts of economics in social work knowledge.


Relation between Political Science and Social Work

In a general sense, Political Science is the science of the state. It deals with the association of human beings in the form of political units and the government. Political Science explains the nature and function of the state, its importance, organisation, administration, principles, policies and its laws and legislations for the wellbeing of society. It also explains the suitability of policies, plans, welfare schemes and their implementation under the public domain. The state has the power to control all types of economic, moral, cultural and religious relations and mutual interaction between individuals, groups and communities. Several problems can effectively be solved by enacting legislation.


Social work takes the responsibility to deal with the problems of individuals, groups and communities. In this task, social work tries to study the nature of association and interactions of such individuals, groups and communities for inclusive growth and development. Moreover, in a welfare state like India, where the government takes the responsibility of ensuring the welfare of all sections of the population, social workers have to seriously look into the policies, schemes and programmes that link them up to the needs of the communities for the betterment of the people. In this sense, a social worker needs to know all of these for the better performance of his duties. Thus, looking into such requirements of the knowledge of Political science in social work practice, some political science, like other science, has been incorporated into the body of social work knowledge.


Relation between Statistics and Social Work

As generally understood, statistics is the science that deals with the numerical representation of data to analyse various facts. According to Saligman, "Statistics is the science which deals with the methods of collecting, classifying, presenting, comparing and interpreting numerical data to throw some light on any sphere of enquiry". According to King, "the science of statistics is the method of judging collective, natural or social phenomenon from the result obtained from the analysis or enumeration or collection of estimates." Lovits defines statistics "As the science which deals with the collection, classification and tabulation of numerical facts as the basis for explanation, description and comparison of phenomena."


Statistics attempts to simplify complexities in studies. It effortlessly describes a phenomenon for easy understanding. Statistical methods are the best ways to measure the results of cause and effect relationships between two phenomena. Statistics enlarges human experience and knowledge by making it easier for men to understand, describe and measure the effects of their own actions or the actions of others.

As it is known to us, social work deals with different types of problems. For this purpose, the nature, severity, and factors information is collected, organised, and analysed. Based on this analysis, planning for the solution to the given problem is done. Thus, statistics help social workers effectively solve the problems of individuals, groups, and communities by accurately measuring various facts associated with those problems. Statistics, therefore, find an important place in the knowledge base of social work.


Relation between Social Anthropology and Social Work

Social anthropology is that branch of sociological studies which mainly devotes itself to primitive human beings and primitive societies. It studies the activities of human beings that bring satisfaction to psycho-physical needs. It basically explores the culture of society which is less changeable. The folkways, mores, traditions and values of primitive men are different from modern people. Their nature and factors of problems are also different from modern societies.

There are several social work schools in India where subjects of primitive societies and tribal welfare are taught as full-time and specialised courses. Social work students receive information regarding tribal organisations, their values, beliefs, and customs and based on this information, they try to understand the needs and problems of the tribal people. Then an appropriate action plan is prepared for the solution of their problems. This part of social work knowledge has been borrowed from the study of social anthropology.


Relation between Ethics and Social Work

Ethics is the science that deals with good conduct. It helps one understand what is right or wrong, good or bad and necessary or unnecessary. It studies the righteousness or correctness of behaviour. To determine whether a particular behaviour is justified, the social background must be kept in mind. The behaviour considered correct in one society may not be taken to be accurate in another. It is based on social behaviour that the norms of morality developed. Therefore, ethics studies social behaviour from the point of view of the standard of morality.

Social work helps individuals in solving their psycho-social and adjustment problems. Most of the adjustments problems are due to an individual's value conflict. These problems can only be solved by changing or modifying the behaviour of individuals. Modification or change of behaviour is possible by resolving value conflict. Hence, social work has incorporated some ethics knowledge to train social workers to enhance understanding and skills in solving value conflicts in the client.


  1. Thanks for the clear insight! It's easy to understand and has helped me build a better understanding of social work and its relations with other social sciences!

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