chapter  1
17 Pages

The Mutual-Aid Model of Social Work with Groups

Although not the first to identify mutual aid as the key to social group work, William Schwartz (1961) was the first to introduce the term into social work. By the time he adopted the term, however, not only had the concept long been recognized as central to social group work, it had been used in other fields as well. For example, mutual aid had already been used as a framework for thinking about biological evolution (Wilson 1979), as well as for analyzing social advancement (Kropotkin 1908). “Beside the ‘law of Mutual Struggle,’” Petr Kropotkin wrote,

there is in Nature the “law of Mutual Aid,” which, for the success of the struggle for life, and especially for the progressive evolution of the species, is far more important than the law of mutual contest. I obviously do not deny the struggle for existence, but I maintain that the progressive development of the animal kingdom, and especially of mankind, is favored much more by mutual support than by mutual struggle (1908, p. x).