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Article

Social Movements  

Michael Reisch

Since the 19th century, social movements have provided U.S. social work with its intellectual and theoretical foundations and many of its leaders. Social workers played leadership roles in the Progressive movement and have made important contributions to the labor, feminist, civil rights, welfare rights, and peace movements for over a century. Since the 1960s, social workers have also been active in New Social Movements, although not to the same extent as in the past. These movements have focused on issues of identity, self-esteem, human rights, and the development of oppositional critical consciousness. Social workers have also been involved in international movements that have emerged in response to economic globalization, environmental degradation, and major population shifts, including mass immigration. More recently in the United States, social workers have played a supportive role in the transnational Occupy Wall Street movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, the #MeToo movement, and organized efforts to establish marriage equality, protect immigrants and refugees, promote the rights of transgender persons, and advocate for environmental justice.

Article

Social Policy: History (Colonial Times to 1900)  

Phyllis J. Day

American social welfare began in the colonial period with the adoption of the Elizabethan Poor Laws as the basis for treatment of society's poor and deviant. By the beginning of the Progressive Era (1900), immigration, the Women's Movement, scientific investigation of social problems, and societal growth produced significant innovations in both public and private perceptions, programs, and treatment in such areas as poor relief, mental and physical health, and corrections, and led to the beginnings of professionalization of social work.

Article

Social Policy: History (1900–1950)  

Iris Carlton-LaNey

This entry traces American social welfare development from the 1890s to 1950. It also includes social work's participation and response to need during two critical times in American history: the Progressive Era and the New Deal. Social reformers were instrumental in the development of social legislation, including the establishment of the Children's Bureau as well as the development of a public welfare system at the state level. America's response to human suffering left many groups, such American Indians, African Americans, and Asians, marginalized. In response, African Americans established a parallel system of private relief through organizations such as the National Urban League, unlike the other racial groups.

Article

Suicide and Public Policy  

Janelle Stanley and Sarah Strole

The historical context of suicidal behavior and public policies addressing suicide arose simultaneously within the United States, and both reflect a culture of discrimination and economic disenfranchisement. Systems of oppression including anti-Black racism, restrictive immigration policy, displacement of American Indigenous communities, religious moralism, and the capitalist economic structure perpetuate high-risk categories of suicidality. Suicidal behavior, protective factors, and risk factors, including firearms, are examined in the context of twentieth and early twenty first century public policy. Recommendations for public policy will be discussed with consideration for policies that impact communities disproportionately and social work ethics, such as right to die laws and inconsistent standards of care.