The professionalization of Spanish social work: Moving closer to Europe or away from its roots?

Emilia Martinez-Brawley, Octavio Vázquez Aguado

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This article will review the processes of professionalization of social work in Spain. With the advent of democratic Spain, many professions began a process of transformation. Those rooted in the relationship between the citizens, their rights and obligations, and the state, were among the first to be challenged. Social work was one of them. Soon thereafter, the European Union (EU), which Spain joined in 1986, brought forth greater challenges and incentives to change. In 1999, Spain and 29 other countries signed the Bologna Declaration, which committed the country to the development of a shared domain (often referred to as 'espacio común') with European higher education. This article reviews the historical process of insertion of social work, heavily influenced by the Catholic tradition of caring, into the universities. The paper examines the model of social work education in Spain, before and during Franco's era, and the professionalization (sometimes referred to as 'tecnificación') of care-giving and training-paradigms that followed the advent of democracy. Current models and efforts to bring Spanish social work into EU compliance have narrowed the gap with the Anglo-Saxon world; but have they distanced social work in Spain from its roots?

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-13
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Work
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Catholic roots
  • Democratization of Spanish social work
  • Europeanization of Spanish social work
  • Lay development in social work
  • Social work history
  • Spanish social work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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