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On-line version ISSN 2340-7948Print version ISSN 0211-9536


GONZALEZ MOYA, Maricela. Social workers and public healthcare: professional identity and labor union battles in Chile, 1925-1973. Dynamis [online]. 2017, vol.37, n.2, pp.345-365. ISSN 2340-7948.

This article depicts a tour through the history of the process that constructed the professional character of the Chilean social service, starting in 1925 with the establishment of the first educational institution. This tour, inseparably linked to the development of the Chilean public health system, proceeds under the auspices of the institutional framework of the health system, with milestones that include academic and educational development, consolidation of social workers' trades union aspirations, and a search for the identity of the discipline, constructed through contact with other occupations. The healthcare imprint that influenced the beginnings of the profession remained the distinctive identity of social workers for the first 50 years, with health sector becoming the main field of employment for service workers and a source of employment stability and of opportunities for improvement and increased earnings. In the context of the professionalizing of healthcare occupations in Chile, social workers were the only professionals who did not undergo training focused strictly on the medical field. This may explain why they helped to incorporate welfare needs in Chilean health policies so that poor families were effectively reached, with social workers entering their homes and becoming fully integrated within communities. In this way, they both expanded the services supplied by the public health system (Servicio Nacional de Salud) and simultaneously legitimized it among the population. Historiographic records of this process were developed from multiple sources, including journal articles, graduate and postgraduate theses, and Chilean archives.

Keywords : Social work; professionalization; Chile; health policy; National Health Service.

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