The thematic issue called Histories of Social Work is devoted to the diverse contexts of the development of social work and its specific aspects in different regions. I was delighted with the large number of contributions that continuously enhance the mosaic of social work development in different parts of Europe and beyond. Unfortunately, due to capacity constraints, it was not possible to include all the successful papers in this issue, for which I apologise to the authors. I did not anticipate such a wave of interest when commissioning the topic, as I still consider interest in the history of social work to be marginal in the Czech context. The number of accepted papers can be explained in various ways, some of the reasons being the additional time to write academic papers due to the ongoing pandemic or a higher level of interest in the history of social work outside the Czech Republic.
Based on the ongoing professional discourse, we can conclude that social work as an academic discipline and practical activity with scientific foundations has a rich and diverse history in European and nonEuropean countries. Knowledge of the history of a particular field should form an integral part of the theoretical education of all professionals. History helps to understand the development of social care as a professional activity, can teach us, inspire us, offer us examples of best practices, and prevent us from putting effort into activities that were unsuccessful in the past. Knowledge of history gives prestige to science, helps to establish professional selfidentity, makes social work history visible in the media, or “just” maps the missing parts of the development.
The journal’s present issue contains nine academic texts from the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Austria, and Slovakia, and a book review from Poland. Readers will be able to gain new and yet unpublished knowledge available only in local archives, which makes the issue unique regarding its content. It is clear from the published articles that social work in different countries has its own traditions and specifics, from which the diverse practice of social work is derived. Thus, we can talk about national models of social work practice and concepts. Along with the actual results of the analyses carried out, the authors also present various research tools with practical examples of how to obtain and process historical data. This is a significant endeavor for new researchers and students who have not yet explored the study of history. I also welcome essays that primarily steer away from presenting historical events but rather reflect on and discuss the importance of knowing history for the building of professional identity and prestige, as well as increasing the visibility of national social work traditions.
In the first article, authors Jutta Harrer-Amersdorffer and Robert ehmann, in an article entitled Gaming Social Work History — Increasing Motivation in an Unloved Field of Student’s Professional Development, address how to motivate social work students to study the historical development of the profession. They use an exciting and unconventional tool, “Gamification,” in university teaching. I consider the article Social Work in the Terezin Ghetto as an Inspiration for the Present and the Future to be a unique text. Czech authors Olga Klepáčková, Martina Černá, and Pavla Šlechtová offer a better understanding of social work practice in the Terezín ghetto that served as a transit camp and model ghetto for not only Czech but also thousands of Jews from other European countries in 1941–1945. Using historical research, they found that the experiences of prisoners involved in social work in the Terezín ghetto can be a valuable source of inspiration and knowledge for present-day social workers.
Next, we move to Austria. The article titled Tracing Persecuted Social Workers During the 1930s in Vienna by Irene Messinger shows that the history of Austria’s displaced female welfare workers has still to be told. The author of the article reconstructed their life stories through biographical research. She concluded that the period she studied had not been sufficiently discussed. At the same time, the results add a missing piece to the puzzle of Austrian professional social work history.
The aim of the article by the authors’ collective Jana Levická, Ladislav Vaska, and Jana Vrťová with the title Historical Roots of Supervision in Social Work Framed by the Anglo-American Tradition is to identify the origins and nature of supervision in social work and its gradual development in the context of professionalization following a historical analysis based on the Anglo-American tradition. The authors use content analysis of historical texts to show that supervision has developed alongside the social work profession. Between the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, supervision was characterized by administrative and educational function, followed by supportive function.
This contribution is followed by an interesting example from Finland titled Replacement of Religious Motives and Values by Secular Professionalism in Social Care, in which authors Juha Hämäläinen, Piia Puurunen, Mari Suonio, and Raija Väisänen illustrate the history of social care as it transitioned from religious motives and values to nonreligious secularism. Outcomes showed that Christian values have significantly influenced Finnish social care in the past but do not play an essential role in modern, research-based professionalism.
The article titled Professional Knowledge Reconsidered: Using History of Ideas to Tackle the Uncertainty of Action in Social Work by Vera Taube presents the history of ideas as a valuable perspective for social work science to advance the connectivity of the discipline’s knowledge base and improve its use for practice. The author concludes that the use of existing knowledge is limited to guide practice under uncertainty because it lacks an independent momentum for profession-oriented decision-making and that the history of ideas is identified as a valuable research perspective for social work research.
Author Pavla Kodymová in an article entitled The Story of Two Social Workers, Marie Krakešová and Vlasta Brablcová, against the Background of the Creation of Educational Social Therapy (1943-1973), aims to depict the story of Educational Social Therapy as a method of individual social work, influenced by intersections of professional tracks of Marie Krakešová, the work author, and Vlasta Brablcová, her student. The presented outcomes, according to the author, will help social workers to boost their professional identity while opening the way to further research into the application of the theory. The results open up another important topic for the history of Czech social work, which is to monitor the impact of Marie Krakešová’s school on the practice of her students.
In the final historical article in this thematic issue, we move to Slovakia. The authors Andrej Mátel, Milan Schavel, and Jaroslava Pavelková devoted their text titled Štefan Strieženec, Pioneer of Modern Slovak Social Work to the analysis of the work and contribution of Štefan Strieženec for Slovak social work in its modern history, i.e., after Through his scientific, terminological, and educational activities, he fundamentally contributed to the formation of modern Slovak social work as an independent managed field and an independent education one.
Apart from the topic of history, the reader will also find a text by the author’s collective Václav Walach, Petr Kupka, and Alica Brendzová, who in the article “The Landlord Treads on Them, so Everything’s Fine”: Exploitation and Forced Mobility in Substandard Private Rental Housing in Czechia aim to explore the representation of the private landlords’ practices that may contribute to housing insecurity and forced mobility in Czech segregated areas. Through the thematic analysis of 167 documents published mainly by the Agency of Social Inclusion, the authors conclude that social workers shall continue to embrace the issue of exploitative practices in private rental housing and use social work methods to reduce the power asymmetry in the tenantlandlord relationships, prevent eviction, and improve rental and housing conditions.
Finally, Mariusz Granosik reviews Paul Michael Garrett’s book Dissenting Social Work: Critical Theory, Resistance and Pandemic. In the conclusion of his review, Granosik writes with enthusiasm – he finds the book very inspiring and recommends it to readers.
I hope that every reader will find “their” text that will bring them new insights.
Editor of the issue