Notions and Principles of Social Work

Academic Year 2023/2024 - Teacher: MARIA PIA FONTANA

Expected Learning Outcomes

The learning outcomes can be divided into two macro-objectives:

a) acquire knowledge on the evolution of assistance over the centuries, with particular reference to philosophical currents and the anthropological conception of the Person and his fundamental needs; learn about the history of Social Work in Italy also through the contribution given by the pioneers of the professional sector, managing to grasp the link between the professional path and the main political, economic and socio-cultural transformations of our country.

b) know the core values ​​of the Social Service and acquire sensitivity on the ethical and deontological issues connected to the practice of the profession, identifying the crucial deontological dimensions, their implications and their operational effects; know the structure and indications of the New Deontological Code of the social worker (2020) in the light of the socio-cultural, technological and organizational innovation that has invested social services

Required Prerequisites

There is no need for students to possess particular basic prerequisites, but rather personal attitudes and curiosities in learning the ethical and deontological foundations of social work by identifying the essential features of professional identity. However, for the part of the program centered on the historical development of the profession, a good knowledge of the political and social processes that characterized the Italian history of the twentieth century would be desirable, as a starting point on which to articulate the birth and development of the Social Service in our country .

Attendance of Lessons

Attendance at the lessons is compulsory and aimed at the intermediate written test at the end of the first module and oral at the end of the second.

Detailed Course Content


·  The philosophical and anthropological roots of social work and the meanings attributed to the concepts of poverty and assistance from the Middle Ages up to the contemporary age;

  • The influence exerted by Christianity and the ideologies of the twentieth century.
·       Welfare policies in the light of the main legislative reforms and the political and social events of our country.
·       The Tremezzo Conference as a founding event for the profession, for its repercussions on the level of professional culture.
·       The symbolic figures and the "pioneers" of the profession; the large post-war social service organizations and the new methods of intervention in favor of individuals (casework) groups (groupwork) and communities (community work).
·     The development of the profession from the post-war period to the sixties. The 1968 crisis and the evolution of social services from the 1970s to today
·       The legislation establishing the profession and the relationship between ethics and law.
·       The founding values ​​of social service. Human rights, situated values and relational values
·       The principles and foundations of social work in an international perspective.
·       Relationship between deontology and evaluation and the ethical dilemmas encountered in the course of professional practice, especially in the field of juvenile protection.
·  The system of responsibilities envisaged by the current code of ethics: towards the user, the company, colleagues, the organization and the profession.
·       Confidentiality and professional secrecy.
·       The system of sanctions and the disciplinary procedure
·       Continuous training and cultural production as deontological instances.
·       Dialogue with other professions from a deontological perspective.
·       The new deontological code in the light of socio-cultural innovations.

·       Supplementary teaching activities, with the contribution of external experts and teachers:

- social work e co-planning;

- social work, Cartabia Reform and the organizational model of the Integrated Multiprofessional Team (EMI); 

Textbook Information

  • Biffi F., Pasini A., Principi e Fondamenti del Servizio Sociale, Concetti base, valori e radici storiche, ed. Erickson, 2018 
  • Stefani M.Le origini del servizio sociale italiano. Tremezzo: un evento fondativo del 1946. Saggi e testimonianze, ed. Viella, 2012, da pag. 31 a 52, da 83 a 107 e da pag. 295 a 327
  • Cacioppo M., Tognetti Bordogna M.Il racconto del servizio sociale. Memorie, narrazioni, figure dagli anni cinquanta ad oggi, ed. Franco Angeli, 2008, da pag. 19 a 62 e da pag. 272 e 302
  • Fontana M.P., Giordano M., Gorgoni A., Nappi A., Deontologia come Habitus. Introduzione al nuovo Codice deontologico dell'assistente sociale, ed. Franco Angeli, 2021

Learning Assessment

Learning Assessment Procedures

Verification tests: intermediate written test and final oral test

Examples of frequently asked questions and / or exercises

·  The conception of poverty in the Middle Ages, interventions and welfare structures
·       Christianity and charitable action, influences in the development of the Social Service
·       The English "Poor Law" of 1601
·       The Charity Organization Society (COS): theoretical assumptions and organizational structure
·       The factory social service in the fascist period
·       Labor policies and social policies in post-war Italy
·       Proceedings of the Tremezzo conference: the need for a historical-humanistic culture for the social worker
·       The Tremezzo conference and its protagonists
·       The Social Service as an instrument of democracy according to Maria Comandini Calogero
·       The social problems of the post-war period and the role of the Social Service in the large Institutions
·       The first schools of Social Service, organization and cultural setting
·       Birth and functions of the Municipal Assistance Body
·       The social policies of the International Aid Administration – A.A.I.
·       The articles of the Italian Constitution which directly or indirectly concern the Social Service
·       The reflections of the 1968 youth protest on the Social Service
·       The law n. 84 of 1993 and the Presidential Decree n.14 of 1987
·       Relationship between personal, professional and institutional codes of ethics according to Banks
·       Biestek and the first list of princes
·       The concept of social justice and its implications
·       First, second and third generation human rights
·       “situated” values ​​and relational values
·       In international code of ethics Ethics in social work
·       The global definition of social work
·       The code of ethics: critical analysis of titles I and II
·       The trifocal approach of the Social Service
·       The responsibility of the social worker towards his own work organization
·       The concept of self-determination
·       Responsibilities towards the profession
·       The obligation of professional secrecy
·       The disciplinary sanction of censure
·       The disciplinary procedure
·       Deontological challenges raised by the digital revolution
·       Ethical guidelines for community work
·       The comparison with other professions in the dialogue between the respective deontological instances
·       Social service and eco-sustainable development

  • Ethical dilemmas in social work