BERTHA C. REYNOLDS - GENTLE RADICAL
GOLDSTEIN, JOAN LOVE BARNERT
MetadataShow full item record
The life and work of Bertha C. Reynolds (1885-1978), a pioneer social work leader, writer, and teacher, is the subject of the study. An outspoken radical, the former Associate Director of the Smith College School of Social Work, her work is falling into disuse. To acquaint practitioners, students, and teachers with the rich heritage of her thought, as reflected in her writings, was a major goal of the study.;A unique quality of Bertha Reynolds was her "wholeness"--her attention to both the psychological and the social base of the profession. Eager to develop a scientific approach to social work, she sought a science of society to help understand nature and history, and found that in Marxism.;The focus of the study is the exploration of the integration of Reynolds' major frame of reference--Marxism--and her social work thought. The study falls under the broad category of Intellectual History; it is a study of the ideas of an individual within a social context and historical milieu.;Content analysis of her writings and oral history based on interviews of Reynolds and others were the methods. All published and unpublished writings, and references, with special attention to radical and Marxist sources, and commentary, was the data base. Major ideas were grouped as themes, and connections to Marxist theory, Reynolds' major frame of reference, were explored. The inquiry was augmented by other data: reminiscences, letters, and private files.;The study revealed an integration of Marxist and social work thought. Reynolds was found to have a class-based view of the structure of society. Social work was seen as financed by ruling groups to enhance social control. Social work was regarded, however, as a vital and necessary profession, with its own role to play. Social workers, allied with organized labor and clients, were seen as a counterbalancing force in the struggle of classes for power. Their joint efforts could result in the improvement in human services and the quality of life for the majority.;A dialectical materialist method of problem analysis was found to allow her to view what appeared as opposites (as the diagnostic/functional schism) to be interrelated, and through inherent contradictions, to lead to change and growth.;In this way, a rich heritage of social work thought was illuminated and found to have relevance to current dilemmas in the profession.