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Paperback 460 pp.
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Modern Social Work Theory

Fourth Edition

Malcolm Payne

Series : Lyceum

This masterly text is a classic in its field and will be a reliable companion throughout the course of your studies and your career as a social work practitioner. In this substantially reworked and updated fourth edition of his best-selling text, Malcolm Payne presents clear and concise evaluations of the pros and cons of major theories that inform social work practice, and comparisons between them.

Modern Social Work Theory is now more accessible and comprehensive than ever, offering: the most complete coverage of social work theory, from classic perspectives to the very latest ideas, including a new chapter dedicated to strengths, narrative, and solutions approaches; a host of brand new case examples showing how theories can be applied to everyday practice; new analysis of the ethical dimensions of different social work theories and what common values they share; Pause and Reflect questions to encourage you to draw on your own experience and develop your thinking; and updated Example text sections which summarize the most current thinking and help bridge the gap between introductions to each theory and more specialist writing.

Readership : Graduate and undergraduate students in social work, social welfare, human services, and related fields.


  • "This text is a tour de force! The new edition is impressive in its scope and consistent application of a social construction perspective. The increased use of diagrams and case illustrations will help students to access some important and complicated aspects of theory."
    --Joan Orme, University of Glasgow, UK

  • "A wonderful resource for students, practitioners, and academics. The new edition is comprehensive and has been brought right up to date, providing clear explanations of the breadth of theories social work has engaged with over time."
    --Sarah Wendt, UNISA, Australia

  • "A really thoroughly revised and updated edition of what is probably the best known and certainly the longest-running UK text on social work theory."
    --Chris Beckett, University of East Anglia, UK

  • "I regard Payne's Modern Social Work Theory as a classic and the best of its type. It not only covers theories well for new social workers but is an excellent refresher for more seasoned academics."
    --Jan Fook, Kingston University, UK

1. The Social Construction of Social Work Theory
· Theory and Knowledge in Social Work Practice
· Theory and Practice in Social Work
· Arenas of Social Work Construction
· Conclusion: Using Ideas about Social Work Theory
Pause and Reflect: Summarizing the Claims for Theory
Case Examples:
·Using Induction and Deduction When Working with Dying People
· Using Practice Theory in Working with a Bereaved Son
· A Client's Pathway to the Service Contributes to a Shared Construction of Social Work
· A Drug User's
· Domestic Violence
· Mental Illness
2. Evaluating Social Work Theory
· Major Statements
· The Main Groups of Practice Theory
· Reviews of Practice Theory in Social Work
· Using Theory Selectively and Eclectically
· Theory in Different Forms of Social Work: Group, Macro, Residential Care, and Family Therapy Practice
Pause and Reflect: Choosing Theories as Useful
Pause and Reflect: How to Use Selection and Eclectic Practice
Case Examples:
· Selecting from Theories to Develop an Eclectic Agency Practice
3. Connecting Theory and Practice
· Practice Issues
· Major Statements
· Why Do We Use Theory in a Practical Activity?
· Practice Approaches To Using Theory
· Conclusion: Using Theory-Practice Ideas
Pause and Reflect: How Might Generalizations Help Us?
Pause and Reflect: How are Theory and Practice Different?
Pause and Reflect: Repressing or Expressing Your Emotions in Practice
Case Examples:
· Maintaining Coherence while Using Different Theoretical Models at Different Stages
· Carrie's Fear of Crying Focuses Her Use of Self
· Chinese and Western Views of Mental Illness
· Hayley's 'Crisis' Questions Led Soumen to Defend His Family's 'Moral Adequacy'
· Henry's Death and His Marriage
· Josie Discusses Theory Openly with Her Clients
· The Theory of Making Tea
· Knowledge and Prevention in Child Welfare Services
4. Psychodynamic Practice
· Practice Issues
· The Politics of Psychodynamic Theory
· Conclusion: Using Psychodynamic Theory
Pause and Reflect: Psychoanalytic Ideas with Cultural Influence on Social Work
Pause and Reflect: Looking At Underlying Factors in Behaviour
Case Examples:
· Julia's Social Work Career
· David's Unconscious Feelings about His Mother
· Dealing with David's Anger
· Should Diana Get Her Children Back?
· Gillian's Use of Emotion in Managing The Relationship with Her Family
· A Single Parent Makes a New Start
· Two Single Mothers' Approaches to Their Daughters
· Mentalizing about Removing a Child from the Mother's Care
Example Text:
· Brandell (2004) on Psychodynamic Social Work
· Shemmings and Shemmings (2011) on Attachment Theory
5. Crisis and Task-Centred Practice
· The Politics of Crisis Intervention and Task-Centred Practice
· Conclusion: Using Crisis and Task-Centred Theory
Pause and Reflect: Jeanne Debates whether to Report a Rape
Case Examples:
· Peter's Father's Divorce
· His Wife's Death
· Multiple Definitions of Problems-Joan's Job
· Exploring Ethan's Drug Problems
· Haroun Singh Experiences
Example Text:
· Thompson (2011a)
· Marsh and Doel (2005) on Task-Centred Practice
6. Cognitive-Behavioural Practice
· The Politics of CBT Theory
· Conclusion: Using CBT
Pause and Reflect: Fabia's Life Objectives
Pause and Reflect: Freda's School-Related Anxiety
Case Examples:
· Getting Muddy at the Park
· Feliks and the Park Again
· Extinguishing His Mother's Disapproval
· Counterconditioning in Enuresis
· The Threat of Unemployment
· The Neuroscientific Basis of Drug Abuse
· Mrs. Folwell's Arthritis
· Fred's Anxiety
· Faisal's Social Activities
Example Text:
· Dobson and Dobson (2009)
7. Systems and Ecological Practice
· The Politics of Systems Theory
· Conclusion: Using Systems and Ecological Theory
Pause and Reflect: Selecting Levels and Focuses
Case Example:
· Pete, a Hyperactive Child in the Marsalis Family
· Seeing Practice in Systems Terms
· Involvement with Different Aspects of a Family's Needs
· Context Defines Responsibilities with a Disabled Person
· Tyler's Drug Abuse and Mrs. Garrod's Housing
Example Text:
· Gitterman and Germain's (2008) Life Model of Social Work
8. Macro Practice, Social Development, and Social Pedagogy
· The Politics of Social and Community Development
· Conclusion: Using Macro, Social Development, and Social Pedagogy Ideas
Pause and Reflect: Communities and Shared Interests
Case Example:
· The Social Pedagogy Pilot Programme in UK Children's Residential Care
· Kevin, a Hyperactive Child
· A Volunteering Scheme for a Housing Project
· Saving the Settlement
· Reviving the Settlement
Example Text:
· Burghardt's (2011) Macro Practice
· Midgley's Social Development
9. Strengths, Narrative, and Solution Practice
· The Politics of Narrative, Solution and Strengths Practice
· Conclusion: Using Strengths, Narrative, and Solution Ideas
Pause and Reflect:
· Criticizing Social Psychology's Contribution to Social Work
· Underlying Claims of Constructions about Social Problems
Case Example:
· Solution-Focused Questioning in Child Safeguarding
· Putting the Forms aside to Get the Story and Find the Strengths
· Telling Children about Death
· A Disabled Man's Allowance Is Withdrawn
· Starting a Child Safeguarding Visit With a Mother
Example Text:
· Greene and Lee (2011) on Solution-Oriented Practice
10. Humanistic Practice, Existentialism, and Spirituality
· The Politics of Humanistic and Related Ideas
· Conclusion: Using Humanistic Social Work
Case Example:
· Jabari's Unemployment
Example Text:
· Glassman's (2009) Humanistic Groupwork
· Holloway and Moss (2010) on Spirituality and Social Work
11. Empowerment and Advocacy
· The Politics of Empowerment and Advocacy
· Conclusion: Using Empowerment and Advocacy Theory
Pause and Reflect: A Case Example Celia's Care Decisions
Pause and Reflect: Think about Who Loses and Gains by Examining an 'Understanding The Issue' Statement
Pause and Reflect: Potential Advocacy Approaches
Case Example:
· Moving into a Mental Health Hostel
· Choosing a New Team Leader
Example Text:
· Lee's (2001) Empowerment Approach
· Hoefer's (2012) Advocacy for Social Justice
12. Critical Practice
· The Politics of Critical Theory
· Conclusion: Using Critical Social Work
Pause and Reflect: Your Examples of Oppression Myths
Pause and Reflect: Examples of Oppression
Pause and Reflect: Structural Challenge in Your Agency
Case Example:
· The Housing Project for Mentally Ill People
· How Praxis Works
· The Disability and Youth Groups in a Community Center
Example Text:
· Mullaly's (2007) 'New' Structural Social Work
· Fook's (2012) Critical Practice
13. Feminist Practice
· The Politics of Feminist Social Work
· Conclusion: Using Feminist Theory in Practice
Pause and Reflect: Mr. Jones's Attitudes
Pause and Reflect: Is Alice and Karina's Work a 'Feminist Conspiracy'?
Case Example:
· The Parsimonious Sister
· The Man Who 'Tapped' His Wife
· Jacob Tries to Close off Family Issues on Assessment
· Feminist Woman-Centred Practice with an Older Man and Woman
Example Text:
· V. White's (2006) 'The State of Feminist Social Work'
14. Anti-Oppressive and Multicultural Sensitivity Approaches to Practice
· The Politics of Anti-Oppression and Sensitivity
· Conclusion: Using Anti-Oppressive and Multicultural Sensitivity Approaches
Pause and Reflect: Rams and Goats in the Social Housing Scheme
Pause and Reflect: Your Life Experience
Pause and Reflect: Using the Web of Intersecting Identities
Case Example:
· Confusion about Nia's Disability
· Celebrating Cultural Diversity in Residential Care
· Selma's Life Develops from Profound Deafness
Example Text:
· Dalrymple and Burke (2006) on Anti-Oppressive Practice
· Sisneros et al. (2008) on Critical Multicultural Social Work

E-Book (ISBN 9780190616632)
Companion Website

Malcolm Payne is Emeritus Professor, Manchester Metropolitan University and from 2003 to 2012 he was Director of Psychosocial and Spiritual Care and Policy, and Development Adviser at St Christopher s Hospice in London. He is a widely-translated best-selling author and editor of many books and articles, including Humanistic Social Work, Citizenship Social Work with Older People, and What is Professional Social Work?

Making Sense in the Social Sciences - Margot Northey, Lorne Tepperman and Patrizia Albanese

Special Features

  • Complete coverage of social work theory, from classic perspectives to contemporary ideas, provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the discipline.
  • "Pause and Reflect" questions encourage students to draw on their own experiences, develop their thinking, and engage with key concepts.
New to this Edition
  • Full chapter on strengths, narrative, and solution practice covers a critique of social psychology's contribution to social work.
  • "Case Examples" demonstrate how theories can be applied to everyday practice.
  • Analysis of the ethical dimensions of different social work theories and what common values they share.
  • Updated "Example Text" selections summarize the most current thinking in social work theory and bridge the gap between introductions to each theory and more specialists writing.