A close and reliable connection between sociology and social work seems plausible, indeed sensible but it has seldom been run smoothly. Indeed it has in various settings become insufferable, messy and even fractured. The article melds two sets of observations based on a career being a sociologist located in social work education. It draws out some of the history of the relationship and comments on the issues and contests that arise when an academic domain becomes implicated in the drive for a practitioner qualification to form a professional discipline. Since this relation has been located in New Zealand and has been significantly impacted by debates on indigeneity, feminism, and responding to neo-liberalism, it opens the scope for activism and provision of data to inform social change and the impact of academic or applied professional agency.