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The Call to Social Work

The Call to Social Work
Life Stories

Second Edition

October 2011 | 160 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
A window into the life of a social worker

The Call to Social Work, Second Edition
is a presentation of narrative descriptions about the work and life of a wide variety of contemporary social workers. The book provides an in-depth understanding of why people choose social work, how they garner meaning from their work, and what they struggle with as they provide needed services. Additionally, it presents more information about the everyday practice of social work, both the challenges and the joys. Instructors who use this book in their courses will be able to contrast their ideals of practice with the realities captured in each life story, while students who read the book will be able to think about whether each story represents good practice, or what principles they would adhere to based on their understanding of social work.

1. The Art of Doing Social Work
2. Having a Personal Mission
3. Ethics and Justice
4. A Meaningful Path
5. In Pursuit of Compassion
6. Building Community Connections
7. A Healing Journey
8. Keeping the Vision Alive
About the Author

"This is a book of narratives, of stories, of practicing social workers from a variety of fields and with a variety of experience. These stories are rich in detail, emotion, consideration, philosophy, conflict, hope, and determination that make up the dailiness of the lives of social workers. Professor LeCroy has done a masterful and respectful job of recounting these narratives, and arranging them in themes that emerge not just from the stories but from the very nature of social work itself. The use of story and narrative is a kind of evidence that we ignore or belittle at our peril. I learned more about the faces and phases of social work reading these narratives than in thousands of pages of surveys or empirical accounts of this life. The central message here is that social work is a calling, a call to service (as Robert Coles has written). The words of these social workers speak to the luminous and nearly spiritual essence of the calling. ‘I still go back to the core thing,’ says one social worker. I do something that matters to somebody else, that matters to me. Something that has value. That is a demonstration of caring." Or, more directly, another social worker says, ‘Social work is a calling. A call to something. There is restlessness inside of you and you have the opportunity to deal with [it]. That restlessness has to do with injustice in the world..."

Dennis Saleebey
University of Kansas

"The Call to Social Work: Life Stories offers what has long been needed: a large dose of crucial, unvarnished stories about the work of social work. LeCroy has brought erudition of hands-on experience to those who are new to the profession and to those of us who need to experience renewal of the contexts in which we teach and practice. The stories portray personal, political, and professional struggles of vision, courage, and sacrifice. This important book should be essential reading for anyone seeking a candid guide that elucidates major themes that define and underlie the profession of social work."

Barbara W. White, Ph.D.
The University of Texas at Austin

"The life narratives, voices, or actual experiences contained in this book reflect the spiritual awakenings, desires to make a difference in the quality of life, and the day-to-day realities of social workers in action. These narratives offer contemporary insights and beg the question: Why were you called to this profession? The passion for social justice and meaningful activities, the dedication to compassion, and the commitment to building community connections and healing journeys are only a few of the motivational themes that [emerge from this book]."

Paula Allen-Meares
University of Michigan

"The introduction to social work every student should get."


This was an inspirational book to read & will help me in enthusing students & help them think about their future in social work

Mrs Eileen Qubain
Social Work , North East Worcestershire College
August 15, 2013

A good overview for young students of "what do social workers do?". Also helpful in modelling how good intentions can get turned into a value-led life career.

Dr Katya Shkurkin
Social Science Division, St Martins College
March 6, 2013

Great examples of the diversity in social work practice, honest reflections, easy to read. I think this is a great supplemental text for Intro to Social Work.

Professor Nancy Anderson
Social and Behavioral Sciences, Warner University
January 23, 2012
Key features

New to the Second Edition

  • Introductions to each chapter outline important themes that students will learn from reading the stories
  • End-of-chapter features help students apply what they have learned from each story
  • Newer, contemporary stories present a realistic context for skills application
  • Rewritten chapter titles provide more thorough descriptions of the chapters' contents
  • Stories have been reorganized into their major fields of practice
  • Short summaries and guiding questions are included in each major chapter, featuring themes that help students better reflect on the social workers' stories

Key Features

  • Helps shape the definition of "contemporary social work practice"
  • Richly supplements social work textbooks by providing forthright first person accounts of the profession
  • Stimulates excitement and interest in social work by highlighting what it is truly like for professionals in the field
  • Provides exposure to a vast array of roles, agencies, and contexts in which social work is performed
  • Illustrates practice skills being implemented in a complex context across various fields of practice
  • Promotes classroom discussion about social work and helps facilitate a more realistic understanding the profession

Sage College Publishing

You can purchase or sample this product on our Sage College Publishing site:

Go To College Site

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.