chapter  2
15 Pages


Multideterminism When social work was in its infancy in the latter part of the 19th century, it aligned itself with the doctrine of single causation, the popular scientific ideology of the times. The doctrine of single causation states that any effect can be traced to a single cause. Many people believed that this linear scientific paradigm would provide solutions to all our modern social ills (Germain, 1970). The idea was simple: If the cause was uncovered, the cure would be revealed. Unfortunately, the doctrine of single causation did not live up to expectations. Neither the friendly visitors (who reasoned that "moral uplift" would cure the "morally deficient" poor) nor the settlement workers (who concentrated on reversing "environmental determinants" of poverty) were successful in turning the tide of widespread economic depression, alcoholism, illiteracy, and unemployment. Decades of switching back and forth between attributing the "cause" of social problems first to individuals and then later to social institutions eventually led to the more contemporary doctrine ofmultiple causality. This tenetposits that difficulties such as poverty and even mental illness can be best understood as a consequence of both individual and societal factors.