114 115The basic issue to be confronted in this chapter arises from an apparent contradiction. On the one hand, modern social work writing seems to emphasise the valuable part ‘knowledge’ plays or ought to play in social work. (The distinction between the part knowledge actually plays and the part it ought to play is quite critical.) On the other hand, ‘knowledge’ in social work is so hedged around with qualification (you don’t really know social work unless or until you do it) or the application of knowledge is so beset by hesitation that a position of downright scepticism at least looms on the horizon. This contradiction between confidently asserted hope and actual doubtrequires unravelling and studying. We believe that some basic distinctions between kinds of knowledge aid the unravelling and the further study, and this chapter will be concerned with exploring the contradiction and presenting the distinction.