Malcolm Payne has honorary professorial posts at Manchester Metropolitan University and Kingston University, London.  He was formerly director of psychosocial and spiritual care, St Christopher’s Hospice, London, and has worked in many different forms of social work practice. His recent books include: An A-Z of social work theory (Sage, 2021), How to use social work theory in practice (Policy Press, 2020); Modern Social Work Theory (Red Globe, 5th edition, 2021).


Despite a history of more than a hundred years, in which it has spread across the globe, social work has been a target of economic and political detractors and doubts about its worth from professional colleagues. Social workers must build a case for its importance. It uniquely represents the value of intervening to promote social solidarity and mutual respect among people with diverse and conflicting interests against political pressures to give priority to economic growth and environmental destruction. This paper seeks to clarify the grounds for interpreting social work as a future resource for Europe and the world.