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An introduction to social work
An introduction to social work

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Placing biography in context

It’s important to be cautious about generalising on the basis of a single biographical account, such as that of Mary Baker in the previous section. Not all children’s homes were this brutal. But removing such young children from their families and taking them to settle in new homes would have been distressing experiences (Humpries and Gordon, 1992, pp. 71–2).

Thus, the biography (or autobiography) of an individual must be placed in context and evaluated carefully. But when it is used sensitively, the life story can contribute to our understanding of individual experience as well as history. Thus, it is central to social work practice.