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An introduction to social work
An introduction to social work

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Biography as history

Earlier, you thought about your own life and some of your main influences. This process of self-reflection, if developed, could provide the basis of your life story. If you decided to ‘tell your story’, how would you structure it? You might well provide a chronological account of your life, from childhood to adulthood. The chances are that you would do this against the backdrop of the social and political events of the time, and you would illustrate it with historical details. You would probably develop a ‘storyline’ too, which made sense of your experiences through a linking commentary. This would then be your life story as told by you, or your autobiography, but it would also be a slice of lived history: an account of a historical era and set of events, as experienced first-hand by you.

The idea of the life story, or biography, can be applied to social work itself and can be used as a way to explore its history. In the next section, you will read the biography of a disabled child who experienced social work many years ago, to catch a glimpse of attitudes of that time and how they affected her.