Charles Zastrow

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Charles Harold Zastrow (born 1942) is an American social scientist and Professor of Social Work at the George Williams College of the Aurora University, known for his work on the theory and practice of social work.


  • Systems theory is antireductionist; it asserts that no system can be adequately understood or totally explained once it has been broken down into its component parts. (For example, the central nervous system carries out thought processes would not occur if only parts were used.)
    • Charles Zastrow (2009) Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare: Empowering People. p. 49

The practice of social work. (1995)


Charles Zastrow. The practice of social work. Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, 1995. 9th ed. 2009.

  • Social work as a profession is of relatively recent origin. The first social welfare agencies appeared in urban areas in the early 1800s. These agencies, or services, were private and were developed primarily at the initiation of the clergy and religious groups. Until the early 1900s, these services were provided exclusively by the clergy and affluent “do-gooders” who had no formal training and little understanding of human behavior or of how to help people. The focus of these private services was on meeting such basic physical needs as food and shelter and on attempting to cure emotional and personal difficulties with religious admonitions.
  • In the past several years, social work has increasingly focused on an ecological model. This model integrates both treatment and reform by conceptualizing and emphasizing the dysfunctional transactions between people and their physical and social environments. Human beings are viewed as developing and adapting through transactions with all elements of their environments. An ecological model gives attention to both internal and external factors. It does not view people as passive reactors to their environments but, rather, as being involved in dynamic and reciprocal interactions with them.
    • p. 24
  • Does a social worker have an obligation to preserve confidentiality if an HIV positive client refuses to inform his/ her sexual partner of the infection (while persisting in behavior that puts the person at risk), or does the social worker have an obligation to warn the partner of the peril?
    • p. 70
  • The social action approach, assumes there is a disadvantaged (often oppressed) segment of the population that needs to be organized, perhaps in alliance with others, in order to pressure the power structure for increased resources or for treatment more in accordance with democracy or social justice.
    • p. 315; partly cited in: Lupe Alle-Corliss, ‎Randy Alle-Corliss (1999) Advanced practice in human service agencies. p. 233
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