Historical trends in calls to action: Climate change, pro-environmental behaviours and green social work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


Social works’ relationship with the environment and the role of social workers in addressing environmental issues under climate change are usually neglected in mainstream practice. I begin this chapter by discussing the importance of social work as a field of research and practice that needs to actively carve out a position of expertise and engagement with emerging environmental issues at the micro-, meso- and macro-levels of society and government. I consider the profession’s past, taking a historical account of social work’s relationship with the environment and the roles that social work has held in addressing environmental concerns by referring to one of its founders in the US, Jane Addams, and her work as ‘Garbage Inspector’ at Hull House. I then map and discuss three main environmental frameworks that have emerged within social work: ecological, eco-social and green social work. I identify three parallel themes that run through social work in addressing environmental issues: a technical approach, philosophical idealism and political economy. In considering the role of social work in engaging with environmental issues I discuss the need to understand political economy as an example of what is currently missing in social work research, education and practice. I conclude this chapter with a discussion on how social work can ensure its relevance to the future.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Green Social Work
PublisherRoutledge/ Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781351727471
ISBN (Print)9781138740792
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch