International perspectives on social work - A review of the theoretical development
Social workers increasingly meet people who live their life oriented towards and sometimes even anchored in two or more countries across the world, and face situations and social problems that cannot be understood from solely a local perspective. This development has nourished the interest of international perspectives on social work, which today are growing in importance. Due to this situation it is appropriate to review existing perspectives and definitions. The first definitions of international social work came in the 1940s, in the shadow of the second world war. A second wave of theory development came about from the late 1960s due to the emergence of critical theory. Ongoing globalization and the increased dependency between different parts of the world are profound for the ongoing theory development. This review of the literature indicates that while the first definitions of international perspectives on social work were reduced to consider cross-border dimensions, over time inter-cultural dimensions have become an integrated part of international perspectives on social work. In what is today sometimes called transnational social work, the cross-border and cross-cultural dimensions of social work are conflated. The contribution of the review lies in that it shows how earlier discussions and dilemmas are reproduced within the globalization discourse.