UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The American Friends Service Committee : background, administration, social work contributions Brinks, Phyllis Henrika


The purpose of this thesis is twofold. There is an attempt to discover the contributions which the Society of Friends has made to social work through the study of the background of the Society, and the current activities of its social work division, the American Friends Service Committee. A second objective has been the intensive study and analysis of one section of the AFSC, so as to contribute a modest piece of research to this organization. The material was gathered from interviews and correspondence with Friends, workers with the AFSC, social workers; analysis of a questionnaire; personal observation through participation in a St. Paul work camp and available publications on this subject. Chapter 1 defines social work, its concepts, principles, and methods. It also gives a brief description of the origin and growth of the Society of Friends as it pertains to the profession of social work. Chapter 2 describes the current activities of the AFSC—the largest social work organ of this religious sect. The strengths and weaknesses of the AFSC administration as compared with other social work agencies are portrayed in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 provides an analysis of the Mexico volunteer work camp projects. A questionnaire was sent to 300 volunteer work campers with the AFSC from 1951 through 1953. Fifty four percent were returned in the allotted time. This study revealed that work campers are a potential source of supply for the profession of social work—particularly social group work, community organization, and social action, though in addition, a goodly number engage in case work. There was individual resistance to writing down the techniques and a greater emphasis on their practical application; something which proved to be true of the organization as a whole, as was demonstrated in the study of AFSC administration in Chapter 3. Chapter 5 is an attempt to analyze the theory and practice of social work by the AFSC.

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