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J Epidemiol Community Health. 2007 October; 61(10): 927.
PMCID: PMC2652980

Social work and social exclusion: the idea of practice

Reviewed by Mieke Rijken

Sheppard M, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006, £55.00 (hardbook), ISBN 0‐7546‐4768‐4; 0‐7546‐4770‐6.

This book aims to clarify the principles and characteristics of social work by explaining its relationship to social exclusion. The author provides a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between social work and social exclusion, with its emphasis on those aspects of social exclusion that belong to the area of attention of social work. This is a logical choice from the social work perspective, but rather disappointing for those who are more interested in the phenomenon of social exclusion than in the specific elements of social work. The author claims in the preface to have written this book with different groups of readers in mind: not only readers with an academic interest in the principles and practice of social work, but also a wide audience in social work and other related areas such as social policy. To me, as a reader belonging to the latter group, the first part of the book is indeed interesting. Unfortunately, as it continues, the book becomes more and more a plea to justify the status of social work as a distinctive discipline. This may be very important for readers working in the academic field of social work, but does not appeal to readers with a general interest in social exclusion and related concepts. I would advise the first group of readers to read this book from beginning to end. The second group will profit most from the subject index; they may be advised to check the reference list carefully, since Sheppard has done a good job in providing an overview of the most essential literature regarding the themes (e.g. need, authority and choice, empowerment, coping and social functioning) described in this book.

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