Social Work with Rural Peoples. 2nd ed.


117 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-921586-29-9
DDC 361.3'2






Reviewed by James S. Frideres

James S. Frideres is associate dean (research) in the Faculty of Social
Sciences at the University of Calgary and the author of A World of
Communities: Participatory Research.


This primer for social workers in rural areas begins with a brief
discussion of development and underdevelopment theory. According to
Collier, social workers have become agents of capitalism, and social
work has taken on an urban bias that is inappropriate for rural
settings. He argues that a “generalist,” as opposed to specialist,
perspective is necessary if the goal of helping rural people become
empowered is to be achieved.

The second part of the book focuses on how social workers should deal
with isolated Native communities. The issue of cultural differences
dominates this section. Although the author is able to provide vignettes
about these differences, he provides few concrete examples and
identifies even fewer specific strategies. The remainder of the book
deals with social work in rural agricultural societies. While the author
makes a convincing argument that urban social work services do not fit
into the rural ethos, he offers little specific advice as to how to
adapt the general principles of social work to the rural setting.

This book is not a thorough review of development or modernization
theory. Nor is it an up-to-date handbook on rural social work. What the
book does provide is a sensitizing orientation for social workers with
placements in isolated Native or rural communities.


Collier, Ken., “Social Work with Rural Peoples. 2nd ed.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 21, 2024,