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Article

Civil Society in Macro Social Work  

Jocelyn Clare R. Hermoso and Carmen Luca Sugawara

The connection between macro social work practice and civil society is inextricable. Macro practice focuses on forming and strengthening people’s organizations, communities, and other collectivities that make up the structure and foundation of civil society, defined as the sphere outside of the state and market where people can exercise their right to participate in decision-making on political, social, and other matters that affect their lives. Working with civil society can compensate for some of the limitations of working within state institutions. Civil society’s potential and ability to serve as an arena for realizing individual and community well-being, human rights, and social justice warrant positioning it on equal footing as the state as an area of practice for the social work profession.

Article

Climate Change and Macro Social Work  

Kelly Smith

The compounding and escalating effects of environmental degradation, which include climate change, threaten the human-earth system with severe implications for the future of macro social work. Systems of power and oppression, including racial, economic, and gendered inequities, are exacerbated by environmental changes with significant impacts on human rights, public health, and various measures of well-being. While climate change is often not the root cause of inequality, it compounds existing inequities, making it substantially more difficult for marginalized populations to rebound from escalations of the myriad acute and chronic consequences due to climate change and environmental collapse. Experiences of environmental change consistently highlight the expanding resource and resiliency gaps among vulnerable populations, leading to disproportionate repercussions felt initially and, to an arduous degree, by marginalized groups. Simultaneously, these circumstances create opportunities for social workers to intervene and advance the causes of social justice. Macro-level interventions and climate solutions can emerge from social work development and support of policies and interventions that overcome short-term thinking to produce beneficial outcomes for populations and the environment by building capacity in the human-earth system and economic policy systems. Social work is ideally situated to confront climate change by balancing immediate needs with long-term ecological sustainability and relying on its historical understanding of systems to improve policy development and practical climate change mitigation approaches.

Article

Coalitions and Coalition Building  

Jessica Greenawalt, Jan Ivery, Terry Mizrahi, and Beth B. Rosenthal

Coalitions are mechanisms to bring organizations and individuals together for collective efforts ranging from short-term crisis responses to longer-term problem-solving for social change. Coalitions create a specific type of collaboration that is dynamic and responsive to current events in the social, political, economic, and physical environments. In addition to addressing diverse issues, coalitions can be structured to position those most impacted by the issues to have greater influence in addressing them. This article frames an understanding of coalitions within the context of equity and power and suggests aligned language and approaches. Coalition-specific challenges and opportunities are presented to illustrate how coalition building is both a process and an outcome for developing equitable and inclusive practices in macro social work.

Article

Collaborative Practice  

Hal A. Lawson and Catherine S. Kramer

Social workers are prepared to benefit from and provide cross-boundary leadership for several kinds of collaborative, macro practice, all of which are structured to achieve a collective impact. Examples include teamwork, interorganizational partnerships, and community-wide coalitions. All are needed to respond to complicated practice problems, particularly ones characterized by co-occurring and interlocking needs. A family of “c-words” (e.g., consultation, coordination) is employed in many macro-level initiatives. Collaboration is the most difficult to develop, institutionalize, and sustain because it requires explicit recognition of, and new provisions for, interdependent relationships among participants. Notwithstanding the attendant challenges, collaborative practice increasingly is a requirement in multiple sectors of social work practice, including mental health, substance abuse, school social work, complex, anti-poverty initiatives, international social work, and workforce development. Beyond interprofessional collaboration, new working relationships with service users connect collaborative practice with empowerment theory and are a distinctive feature of social work practice.

Article

Communities in Macro Practice  

Mary Ohmer and Emily Underwood

Communities are shared spaces that can be geographic, virtual, or based on shared interest, identity, or function. All three types of communities can exist on their own and overlap with one another. Virtual communities have grown considerably over the years and were particularly important during the coronavirus pandemic. Study of these communities begins with conceptual definitions of communities and a historical overview of communities in macro social work practice. A discussion follows of theoretical and conceptual frameworks that can help macro social workers better understand how to engage communities in their work, including systems theory and the ecological perspective, theories that inform community social processes, conflict and consensus approaches to working with communities and the role of power and community empowerment, and critical race theory. Illustrative examples demonstrate how these theories and conceptual frameworks can be applied to communities.

Article

Community-Based Aging Services  

Jan Ivery

As individuals age, their physical community continues to be a primary entry point of intervention because of their attachment to place, social connections, and limited mobility to travel as far and as often as they would like or desire. The environment provides a context for understanding an older adult’s social interactions and the availability of and access to supportive services that reduce isolation and increased risk for reduced health status. When individuals age in place, social workers need to understand how community-based services can work with older adults in their community where they have lived for some time and have developed social networks. This knowledge will better assist social workers in their ability to effectively connect clients with appropriate resources. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for an older adult’s environment to not reflect or adapt to their changing health status and physical mobility. Healthy aging (also referred to as age-friendly) and NORC (naturally occurring retirement communities) initiatives have emerged as examples of how to provide supportive, community-based services that will enable older adults to remain engaged in their community as they experience changes in their health status, mobility, and financial security. These community-level interventions emphasize the adaptability to an older adult’s changing lifestyle factors that influence how they navigate their community. These initiatives engage older adults in planning and implementing strategies to connect older adults with services and activities that promote aging in place. Social workers play a very important role in the provision of community-based aging services because they can serve as a bridge between older adults and the local, state, and federal level programs that may be available to them.

Article

Community-Based Participatory Research  

Alma M. Ouanesisouk Trinidad

Community-based participatory research (CBPR) embraces a collaborative partnership approach to research that equitably involves community members, organizational representatives, social workers, other practitioners, and researchers in the research process. CBPR begins with a research topic of importance to the community and has the aim of combining knowledge with action and achieving social change. It is community based in the sense that community members become part of the research team and researchers become engaged in the activities of the community. Community–researcher partnerships allow for a blending and aligning of values and expertise, promoting co-learning and capacity-building among all partners, and integrating and achieving a balance between research and action for the mutual benefit of all partners. Various terms have been used to describe this research, including participatory action research, action research, community-based research, collaborative action research, anti-oppressive research, and feminist research.

Article

Community Building  

Umeka E’Lan Franklin

The history, theory, and empirical and practical knowledge of community building social networks and social ties contribute to informal social control, while neighborhood behavior is key to the development and maintenance of social cohesion. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is considered when examining the relationships among the elements of community resources, civic engagement, and civic participation. Empirical work provides evidence of effective ways to produce and promote community building in poor neighborhoods, as well as the practical knowledge that suggests its importance for the role of social work.

Article

Community Development  

Alice K. Johnson Butterfield and Benson Chisanga

Community development is a planned approach to improving the standard of living and well-being of disadvantaged populations in the United States and internationally. An overview of community development is provided. The objectives of community development include economic development and community empowerment, based on principles of community participation, self-help, integration, community organizing, and capacity building. Community building and asset-based approaches are recent trends and innovations. Community development is interdisciplinary, with models and methods derived from disciplines such as social work and urban planning. The entry examines linkages between community development and macro practice, including an increase in employment opportunities for social workers.

Article

Community Economic Development  

Steven D. Soifer and Joseph B. McNeely

The basic concepts and history of community economic development (CED) span from the 1960s to the present, during which there have been four different waves of CED. During this time period, practitioners in the field have worked with limited resources to help rebuild low-to-moderate-income communities in the United States. There are particular values, theories, strategies, tactics, and programs used to bring about change at the community level. The accomplishments in the CED field are many, and social workers have played a role in helping with community building at the neighborhood, city, county, state and federal levels.

Article

Community Macro Practice Competencies  

Tracy M. Soska

Community macro practice is one of three spheres of macro social work practice along with human services management and policy practice. The historical context on macro practice and community practice since the Council on Social Work Education first adopted competency-based professional education through its Education Policies and Accreditation Standards in 2008 is important to appreciate how macro practice competencies have evolved. It is also salient to understand how the Association of Community Organization and Social Action (ACOSA) has been at the forefront of developing macro practice and, especially, community practice competencies, and it these efforts present the most current framework of community macro practice competencies entailed in ACOSA’s Community Practice Certificate partnership program with schools of social work.

Article

Community Needs Assessment  

Mary Ohmer and Emily Underwood

Community assessments in macro social work practice focus on identifying the needs and assets of a community that can be mobilized for community improvement and change. Macro social workers engage with residents and community members as partners in conducting and utilizing the findings from community assessments. The first section describes the values and principles underlying community assessments. This is followed by a discussion of approaches for conducting community assessments. The overall approach to community assessment discusses the shift in community assessment from focusing mainly on needs and deficits to understanding both community assets and needs. Two specific approaches to community assessment are then described in greater detail, including the consensus organizing approach to conducting a community analysis and the asset-based community development approach to conducting asset mapping. This section is following by an overview of the key methods for collecting and reporting data for a community assessment.

Article

Community Organizing  

Geoffrey W. Wilkinson, Lee Staples, Ashley Slay, and Iliana Panameño

Community organizing centers the leadership of community members in developing and controlling organizations created to express, sustain, and build community power through action for social justice. It is distinguished from other forms of community practice by the ethos, “nothing about us without us,” and may combine elements of community development, direct action, popular education, and community action research. Community organizing promotes individual and collective empowerment. It is practiced in communities of geography, identity, shared experience, and other arenas. In the United States, organizing takes three major approaches to building sustainable bases of community power—organizations formed through individual membership, institutional networks, and coalitions. Innovations in community organizing arising particularly from the leadership of women and people of color—known as transformational organizing—take an intersectional approach to addressing racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of systemic oppression while also addressing the personal and social needs of community members. Organizing increasingly takes advantage of internet technology and is effective for influencing legislation and electoral politics, as well as a wide range of community-based issues.

Article

Community Planning  

Elisheva Sadan and Edith Blit-Cohen

Community planning is a process of participatory and inclusive organized social change, directed toward community empowerment, building community, and developing members’ capacities to take part in democratic decision making. A three-dimensional model of empowering community planning is presented and discussed. The model focuses on the tasks of community social work in the planning process, and the empowering outcomes they can enable.

Article

Community: Practice Interventions  

Anne Williford and Marie Villescas Zamzow

This article offers an introduction to macro social work practice interventions. Specifically, it seeks to: (a) identify the difference between direct service (micro) and macro practice; (b) describe historical and contemporary foundations for macro practice; (c) establish a connection between macro practice and core social work values; (d) describe specific examples of macro social work practice using 21st-century social justice issues as exemplars; and (e) identify roles needed for macro social work practice. This article emphasizes the need for macro social work practice to create much needed change in the areas of social, environmental, and economic justice. It will examine the trend in social work that has increasingly placed emphasis and value on micro practice, which has marginalized macro-level social work as a result. Society continues to confront seemingly intractable social justice issues and is, in the early 21st century, experiencing a critical reckoning of how systems of oppression continue to exact violence against vulnerable populations. This article uses examples of social, environmental, and economic justice issues with specific recommendations on how to adopt an anti-oppressive macro practice framework.

Article

Community Resilience  

Cindy Sousa and Tamarah Moss

Community resilience describes the dynamic, ongoing process of coping and recovery in the face of collective stressors and trauma. Social and monetary capital, technological expertise, and strong physical and organizational infrastructure all undergird strong systematic responses to massive hardships. Other factors that underlie community resilience, such as shared philosophies; patterns and cultures of survival and meaning-making; emotional qualities such as optimism and trust; and norms around cooperation and interdependence, are more ethereal. Our world faces continual onslaughts to collective well-being. Thus, notions and practice models around community resilience are increasingly urgent to develop, with implications for macro practice across multiple methods - including community organization, policy practice, and management/administration.

Article

Community Violence  

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.

Article

Community Violence and Mental Health  

Selena Marshall and Michele Gordon

Social-ecological inspections into community violence advance our understanding of a single story of violence solely within urban communities, to a more critical discourse of examination. Undoubtedly, the environmental and social determinants of community violence influence variances in community health and dimensions of overall quality of life. Community violence is systemic, with compounded intergenerational effects rooted in racism, discrimination, and marginalization. The reality of daily violence and repeated traumas that many communities experience requires an urgent, multilevel response. Advocacy efforts must be directed at dismantling the structural components within communities that support social disengagement and a culture of normative violence. Community-engagement interventions that are respective of trauma-informed care and community building, have numerous implications for bridging micro- and macro-level social work practices.

Article

Complex Systems Science and Social Work  

John Halloran and Fred Wulczyn

Extending social work’s familiarity with the metaphorical use of systems concepts, formal systems science enables macro social workers pathways of understanding and description of system-level behavior. Systems, in a formal sense, are coherently organized and interconnected sets of parts that, when operating together, perform a function. The behaviors of complex systems are not reducible to the behavior of individual components, and behaviors of systems are unique to the system as a whole. We introduce a formal approach to systems thinking, provide an overview of central concepts in complex systems analysis, and conclude with an in-depth example of an agent-based simulation model, which puts complex systems thinking into action in a research and practice context.

Article

Conflict Resolution and Conflict Mediation  

D. Crystal Coles and Jason Sawyer

Conflict fundamentally impacts human interaction and social organization, and thus persists as a primary emphasis within macro social work practice. Traditionally, conflict resolution and conflict mediation have been provided through aspects of prevention, restoration, procedural, or decision-making services. This entry expands definition, discussion, and application of conflict resolution and conflict mediation in policy, organizational, and community practice settings. Authors use a critical lens and create new approaches in the application of conflict as a both a tool and guide for transformative macro practice across social work macro practice contexts.