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Book Review   |    
Critical Social Welfare Issues: Tools for Social Work and Health Care Professionals
Joshua Miller, Ph.D., M.S.W.
Psychiatric Services 1998; doi:
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edited by Arthur J. Katz, Abraham Lurie, and Carlos M. Vidal; Binghamton, New York, Haworth Press, 1997, 237 pages, $39.95

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This book is a compilation of essays originating from a distinguished lecture series at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1994-1995. The presenters had been asked to respond to a call to identify critical issues for social welfare and the profession of social work.

The issues covered in the book include welfare reform, child welfare, homelessness, HIV testing of newborns, and managed care. There are also chapters on the changing African-American family structure and the blaming of women for social problems. Other chapters consider challenges to the profession of social work, working with Hispanic families, and issues of power in social work practice. The intended audience for the book is social workers and health care professionals, although the majority of the chapters are directed toward social workers.

The book is loosely edited. The range of issues that are considered are very broad, and there is no subgrouping of chapters or connections between them. Some of the chapters are well written, such as Cloward and Piven's chapter about class war and welfare reform, Mimi Abramovitz's chapter on scapegoating women for social problems, and Ann Hartman's chapter on issues of power in social work practice. However, these established writers have expressed many of these ideas elsewhere. Many other chapters appear to be unedited transcripts of lectures, eschewing references and with no attempt to translate from an oral to a written narrative.

Overall, the book reads like a conference transcript and does not hold together as a coherent or meaningful text.

Dr. Miller is associate professor in the Smith College School for Social Work in Northampton, Massachusetts.

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