Retirement is a modest social institution that appeared in most industrialized nations near the start of the 20th century. The aim of retirement was to solve the societal dilemma of an increasingly aged labor force by moving older workers systematically out of their jobs so as to not cause them financial harm (Atchley, 1980, p. 264). Although retirement has been considered benign since its inception, the history of retirement indicates that it is one of the main progenitors of ageism in society today (Atchley, 1982, 1993; Haber & Gratton, 1994; McDonald, 2013; Walker, 1990). Retirement and its accompanying stereotypes have been used as a tool for the management of the size and composition of the labor force contingent on the dictums of current markets in any given historical era. Ever-changing ideologies about older adults that extend from negative to positive ageism have been utilized by business, government, the public, and the media to support whatever justification is required in a particular era, with little thought to the harm perpetrated on older adults. Unfortunately, society has subscribed to these justifications en masse, including older adults themselves. In this article the ageism embedded in retirement is examined to make what is implicit explicit to social work practitioners and policymakers in the field of aging.
Ageism and Retirement
Asian Americans: South Asians
This entry briefly profiles the dynamic fusion, fluidity, and future of South Asians in America. While Diaspora India is emblematic of immigrant culture as a whole, South Asian duality still remains uniquely enigmatic. People from South Asia represent a confluence of diversity and complexity that calls for understanding and acceptance as a model to deconstruct a tolerant and successful pluralist society.
Attachment Research, Developmental Implications, and Clinical Interventions with Children, Adults, and Couples
This review summarizes contributions to attachment theory and research by John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth, Mary Main, and many other researchers. It addresses contributions from the Adult Attachment Interview to the understanding of loss and trauma as well as the intergenerational transmission of attachment patterns from parent to child. The review describes current findings from infant research, and the implications of attachment theory to clinical interventions with children, families, adults, and couples.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Sandy Magaña and Lauren Bishop
Autism spectrum disorder is a heritable, developmental disability that is characterized by challenges with social communication and the presence of restrictive and/or repetitive patterns of behavior. Autism spectrum disorder affects development and quality of life from very early development through old age. Social workers play a number of different roles in supporting and advocating for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. It is important that social workers understand the etiology, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder, how it manifests throughout the lifespan, and challenges faced by families affected by ASD.
Laura S. Abrams
This entry explores past and present social-scientific lenses concerning bisexuality. The author traces the rise of a bisexual movement in the 1970s to present times. The entry concludes by addressing social work's limited contributions to understanding bisexuality and proposes trends and directions for future practice and research with diverse groups of bisexuals.
Bullying in Youth
Jonathan Singer and Karen Slovak
Bullying is the most common form of violence in schools and has been shown to disrupt the emotional and social development of both the targets and the perpetrators of bullying (Raskauskas & Stoltz, 2007). Bullying can be physical, verbal, relational, and direct or indirect. There are well-established age and sex trends (Olweus, 1993; Smith, Madsen, & Moody, 1999). There has been considerable research on bullying-prevention programs and scholarship on best-practice guidelines for school social workers (Dupper, 2013). An emerging concern is with the use of electronic and Internet devices in bullying, referred to as “cyberbullying.” In this article we define bullying and cyberbullying; discuss risk factors associated with being a bully, a victim, and a bully-victim; describe prevention and intervention programs; and discuss emerging trends in both bullying and cyberbullying.
Christina E. Newhill
Client violence and workplace safety are relevant issues for all social workers across practice settings. This entry addresses why and how social workers may be targets for a client's violent behavior, and what we know about who is at risk of encountering violence. Understanding violence from a biopsychosocial perspective, identifying risk markers associated with violent behavior, and an introduction to guidelines for conducting a risk assessment will be discussed. The entry concludes by identifying and describing some general strategies for the prevention of client violence.
Cognition and Social Cognitive Theory
Paula S. Nurius
Social cognition refers to the ways in which people “make sense” of themselves, other people, and the world around them. Building on social psychological contributions, this entry summarizes processes through which we perceive, interpret, remember, and apply information in our efforts to render meaning and to interact. Rather than a rationalistic depiction, we see complex relationships among cognitions, emotions, motivations, and contexts. Social cognition provides guidance to mechanisms or venues through which personal and environmental transactions related to meaning take specific form, thereby offering crucial insights into adaptive or maladaptive development as well as change strategies. A principal benefit of social cognition for social work practice is its empirically supported and broadly applicable framework for explaining how person–environment interactions unfold and might be altered in the service of social work practice and social justice. Social cognition includes, for example, social knowledge, social influences, the relationship between social structures and categories (age, race, and sex) in constructing meaning, stereotyping and other biases in information processing, dynamic processes through which memories get stored, recall, and revised, attributions of others' behavior and motives and of one's own responses and internal states, identity development, and processes through which affect, cognition, and neurophysiology interrelate as people interact with their social environments.
Muhammad M. Haj-Yahia, Neil B. Guterman, and Maria João Lobo Antunes
Community violence is a widespread concern that is receiving increasing attention by social workers. We consider here the problem of community violence and the present understanding of its rates, risk factors, protective factors, consequences, and some orientations for prevention and intervention. Growing evidence identifies a multifaceted and multisystemic ecological perspective of risk and protective factors linked with community violence exposure and its effects. Current research points to potentially helpful ameliorative and preventive strategies for social workers to consider at the micro and macro levels; however, the main focus of this article is on the macro-level factors and processes.
Conflict Theory for Macro Practice
Susan P. Robbins and George S. Leibowitz
Conflict theory encompasses several theories that share underlying assumptions about interlocking systems of oppression and how they are maintained. The relevance of Marx’s theory of class conflict, C. Wright Mills’s power elite, and pluralist interest group theory are all important to understand and address social and economic gaps and informing policy for macro practice. Conflict theory can provide an understanding of health disparities, racial differences in mortality rates, class relationships associated with negative outcomes, poverty, discrimination in criminal justice, as well as numerous factors that are broadly associated with inequality embedded in social structures. Social workers play a significant role in addressing disparities in research, curricula, primary and secondary intervention, and public policy, and conflict theory can provide the framework necessary to enrich this understanding.
Congregational Social Work
Gaynor Yancey and Diana R. Garland
The social work profession has deep roots in religious practices and organizations. Congregations have served as viable contexts for social work practice from the very beginnings of the profession. In this entry, we examine congregational social work as a field of practice through discussion of definitions, historical development, characteristics of congregations, academic preparation of social workers for this field of practice, review of the literature and research, and ways of strengthening the future of social work in this field of practice.
David Stoesz and Catherine Born
For-profit health and human service corporations afford a range of employment opportunities for professional social workers, although organizational structures may not resemble those of nonprofit and government agencies, and these settings may present new professional challenges. Corporations have become prominent, in some cases dominant, providers in fields as disparate as hospital management and nursing home care, child and adult daycare, residential treatment, managed health care, welfare eligibility and job placement, child support, and corrections. For-profit expansion across the array of health and human services continues, which bodes well for social workers willing to consider corporations as a practice setting. Opponents of commercial human services worry that adverse client selection criteria may screen out the most troubled individuals and about possible corner-cutting in service delivery to meet fiscal targets. The general concern is that, in these firms, profit may trump program. Others strongly believe that the profit motive is simply incompatible with the human service mission. Proponents claim that benefits include management and cost efficiencies, nimbleness, ease and speed of innovation, and technological prowess. The emergence of new commercial entities such as benefit corporations that commit to creating social benefit, not just profit, are also touted. Arguments aside, the neoliberal social policy vector that emerged in the later decades of the 20th century encourages the outsourcing of public services. Thus, privatization in the form of corporate human services may continue to expand and almost certainly will continue to exert influence in health and human services policy, programming, and service delivery for the foreseeable future.
Crime and Criminal Behavior
Margaret E. Severson
This entry includes contemporary definitions of crime, theoretical ideas about the etiology of criminal behavior, and information about the methods used to estimate crime rates in the United States. The focus of this entry is on adult prisoners. Key issues such as disproportionate minority incarceration, the acceleration in the number of women entering into the criminal justice system over the last 20 years, and the prevalence of persons with mental illnesses in the nation's jails and prisons are addressed. Current controversies and practices such as risk reduction efforts and rehabilitation strategies are described.
Kendra P. DeLoach McCutcheon
Social workers have a responsibility to challenge discrimination and promote social and economic justice. To fulfill this responsibility, it must be understood how discrimination exists and the detrimental affect it has on both the psychosocial functioning and well-being of individuals who are marginalized, disenfranchised, and disempowered (targeted groups) and individuals who have privilege, resources, and power (advantaged groups).
Domestic Violence in the LGBT Community
Betty Jo Barrett
Since the mid 1980s, a growing body of theoretical and empirical literature has examined the existence of intimate partner violence (IPV) in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities. Collectively, this research has suggested that IPV in rainbow communities occurs at rates comparable to those documented among heterosexual populations and results in similar detrimental psychological, social, and physical consequences for victims. Importantly, however, this work has also highlighted myriad ways in which the social and structural marginalization of gender and sexual minority populations create unique vulnerabilities for IPV that are not shared by cissexual and heterosexual individuals. This entry provides an overview of this scholarship to inform strength-based social work practice with and for LGBT survivors of domestic violence at the macro, mezzo, and micro levels.
Early Brain Development for Social Work Practice
Development of the brain in the first 3 years of life is genetically programmed but occurs in response to environmental stimuli. The brain is organized “from the bottom up,” that is, from simpler to more complex structures and functions, so the experiences and environment that shape early development have consequences that reach far into the future. This entry describes the ontogeny and processes of fetal and infant brain development, as well as major risks to early brain development (during pregnancy and after birth), with emphasis on the factors seen in social-work practice. Neuroscience research is changing social work practice, and understanding early brain development and the contributors to poor development is critical for social workers in medical, mental health, child welfare, and other practice settings.
Alex Gitterman, Carel B. Germain, and Carolyn Knight
Ecological concepts and principles enable social workers to keep a simultaneous focus on people and their environments and their reciprocal relationships, not only in direct practice with individuals, families and groups, but also in influencing organizations and communities and in policy practice. Ecological concepts emphasize the reciprocity of person:environment exchanges, in which each shapes and influences the other over time. Ecological concepts are reviewed.
Ecological Social Work
Ecological social work requires a shift in thinking for social workers because it does not place humans at the center of its concerns. Rather, ecological social work puts the interrelationship between humans and nature at its center. This radically de-centered view of humanity aims to bring consideration of the planet and all of its environmental systems into decision-making to ensure the sustainability of natural resources for the long term. Ecological principles can guide social work practice, research, and education in ways that promote a transition to sustainable practices in every sphere of life. Widespread ecological consciousness is advocated as an important focus for change by some social work authors promoting this approach. A global consciousness is understood to enable humanity’s capacity to deal with the growing concerns about the survival of planet Earth as a suitable habitat for humans, animals, and plants. Humanity’s activities are understood to contribute to the ongoing degradation of fresh water, fertile soils, and pollution of the atmosphere. Drastic changes in the way humans behave and relate to the Earth are considered necessary at the global, national, and local levels. Social workers are thus called on to engage with others in taking on significant roles in many areas of practice to facilitate these crucial societal transformations.
Fred H. Besthorn
The earth's climatic and environmental conditions appear to be going through rapid and dramatic changes. Social work has traditionally distinguished itself by claiming a particular focus on person–environment transactions. The balance between the person and the environment has not been easy to maintain—especially with the environmental construct often becoming constricted to small-scale personal space and existing social systems. In the context of a growing environmental crisis and international awareness of the earth's tenuous ecological condition, social work can reclaim its traditional commitment to environmental concerns and find new ways to express and operationalize these concerns in a rapidly changing world.
Financial Social Work
Margaret S. Sherraden and Jin Huang
There is increasing interest in financial social work as a way to tackle the challenges that economic inequality and financialization pose for financially vulnerable households. Financial social work has deep historical roots and a potentially broad scope for the social work discipline. Two basic concepts underlie financial social work: financial capability and financial well-being. The financial capability framework is the underlying theory. It links structural and clinical practices of financial social work to the growing body of research on financial capability and asset building. Practice content and strategies of financial social work are mapped in detail in three examples: Child development, intimate partner violence, and problem gambling. An overview of the current status of financial social work in social work education and possible future directions concludes the discussion.