May 9, 2002
Vol. 21 No. 15

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    SSA journal published by University Press begins its 75th year

    By Josh Schonwald
    News Office

    The School of Social Service Administration’s Social Service Review, the longest continuously published journal of social work in the world, entered its 75th year in publication this spring.

    The March issue of the quarterly journal, Volume 76, No. 1, commemorated the anniversary with an introduction from the publication’s ninth editor, Michael Sosin, the Emily Klein Gidwitz Professor in SSA. Sosin has been editing the review since November 1998.

    The Social Service Review, which is published by the University Press, is regarded as the most influential academic journal in the discipline of social work. “It is the most important in providing a scholarly foundation for social work,” said Sosin. “It’s the first journal that researchers turn to for testing theoretical and conceptual frameworks.”

    The journal is based at SSA, and its editor, by charter, is an SSA faculty member selected by the school’s dean and approved by the board of the University Press. Both an internal, SSA faculty board and an external board of 31 selected academics from around the world contribute to the reviewing and editing process.

    On its anniversary, Edward Lawlor, Dean of SSA, and the dean who appointed Sosin to his post, honored SSA’s association with the journal. “The Social Service Review is one of the great assets of the school,” said Lawlor. “Throughout its history it has provided the scholarly foundation for our field.”

    The journal, which was founded by SSA’s first Dean, Edith Abbott, and one of its first faculty members, Sophonisba Breckinridge, has played a historic role in the field of social work, Lawlor added.

    While the mission of the journal to inspire scholarly work in social work is not at all unusual now, it was a maverick idea in 1927.

    Abbott and Breckinridge hoped it would do for social work what the University Press’ Journal of Sociology and Journal of Political Economy did for their respective fields of study. Initially, however, progress was difficult, and social workers were skeptical. The publication was, ostensibly, pioneering a new discipline, Sosin said. “There was a very limited scholarly tradition in social welfare and in schools of social work.”

    The Social Service Review succeeded, virtually by itself, inspiring a rigorous academic examination of the policies and practices of the social services.

    Today, it features research from not only social welfare scholars and practitioners, but also economists, theologians, historians, psychologists and political scientists. Articles typically focus on topics such as child welfare, health care, social welfare policy, homelessness, community, clinical practice and juvenile delinquency.