Under the Cover of Kindness: The Invention of Social Work

Front Cover
University of Virginia Press, 1997 - Social Science - 216 pages
1 Review

In Under the Cover of Kindness, Leslie Margolin looks at how this country's social welfare system developed and with what results. From his detailed examination of social work texts, primarily case histories, he argues persuasively that social work disguises its own assumptions and claims to power as a way of further legitimizing its actions. By attending to these case histories, Margolin shows how social work entails not only the intrusion into the previously private space of the home but also the constant justification of this intervention - to both clients and workers themselves - as representing charitable and disinterested help. This book critically assesses how social workers invent themselves as they simultaneously invent their field of knowledge.


What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Complete and unadulterated hogwash written as a philosophical, untested hypothesis by a person with zero first-hand experience in the field.


The Birth of the Investigation 1
The Social Work Gaze
A Network of Writing
Reaching the HardtoReach
Framing the Poor
Lobotomy 1 06
The Rhetoric of Empowerment 1 1 7
The New Excuse 1 35
The New Record 1 51
Works Cited

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 208 - I refer to the Committee on the Prevention of Tuberculosis of the Charity Organization Society of the city of New York.

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1997)

Leslie Margolin has been teaching counseling, sexuality, and writing at The University of Iowa for over twenty-five years. Before that he was a social worker in psychiatric hospitals, including Bellevue in New York, where he saw, as a routine part of his day, the poorest and most unhappy people in America. He entered academia in part as a way of escaping these realities, which is probably why he began writing fiction. His books include Goodness Personified (1994), Under the Cover of Kindness (1997), Murderess! (1999), Damaged (2002), and The Adulteress (2006). The latter received a starred review from Kirkus who described it as "a tour de force of compassion and understanding." In addition to books, he's published over thirty academic papers on topics such as psychiatry, sexuality, and social deviance. The title of his first paper is "Unwelcome Patients: Where Can They Find Asylum" (1978) and his most recent, "When a Slap Is Not Just a Slap: The Construction of Normal Violence in Psychiatric Treatment" (2012). The inspiration for his new novel Reborn Again comes from his unsuccessful efforts to become a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst in the 1970s, in particular, his recollection of how strangely erotic and insular those kinds of relationships could become. Margolin is married with two adult children and one grandchild.

Bibliographic information