Individuals, families, groups, communities, and society as a whole are the focus of social work, which is both an academic discipline and a practice-based profession that seeks to meet basic needs while also promoting social functioning, self-determination, mutual obligation, optimal health, and general well-being. Socio-emotional functioning is described as an individual's capacity to carry out their social responsibilities within their own selves, their local social surroundings, and society at large. Individuals across the lifecycle are helped by social workers who apply disciplines such as sociology, psychology, human biology, political science, health and community development, as well as law and economics. They are also helped by social workers who engage with client systems, conduct assessments, and develop interventions in order to solve social problems, personal problems, and bring about social change, as well as by social workers themselves. It is common to split social work practise into two categories: micro-work, which includes working directly with people or small groups, and macro-work, which involves working with communities and promoting change on a wider scale via social policy. Some colleges started social work management programmes in the 1980s to educate students for positions in the administration of social and human service organisations in addition to traditional social work training.
Some of the origins of the social work profession may be traced back to volunteer charity and grassroots organisation in the nineteenth century. The reaction of official almshouses, private charities, and religious institutions to social necessities, on the other hand, had existed for a long time before then. Social work was under pressure to become a more defined field as a result of the impacts of the Industrial Revolution and the Great Depression of the 1930s.