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René Sand (1877-1953) and His Contribution to International Social Work, IASSW-President 1946 – 1953

Author(s): Eilers, Kerstin

Journal: Social Work and Society
ISSN 1613-8953

Volume: 5;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2007;
Original page

The extraordinary significance of the life and work of René Sand lies in his central position as a mediator, promoter and coordinator of social work on an increasingly international level during the interwar-period and it can hardly be overestimated. To approach the achievements of Sand’s life and work you have to work archaeologically as he does not seem to have left any traces in the literature on social history. In Germany, even within the field of social work his name is hardly known. His biographical sketch and his importance for the development of the profession of social work have fallen into oblivion. The situation is a little different in the French-speaking countries where a biography has been published (compare Anciaux 1988a, b, c) which contains a detailed record of Sand’s writings. Altogether this lack of interest is regrettable because it doesn’t consider that René Sand is exemplary and in some parts fundamental to the emergence of professional social work in the 1920s in Belgium and Europe. Professional social work was established by a consequent international orientation and an emancipation from neighbouring fields such as social medicine and hygiene. Therefore it is a rewarding task to draw attention to this pioneer of social work and make the public appreciate his work. I want to emphasize explicitly that in this portrait Sand’s achievements concerning social work will be the main focus, even if this is an inevitable reduction of his accomplishments in the field of medicine and social medicine.
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