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Article

Policy Practice  

Angela S. Henderson and Angela Bullock

The everchanging influence of policy in addressing social problems and societal conditions greatly contributes to the vital need for macro and social policy practice in social work. Social policy practice based on specific macro social work nature, values, approaches, and processes includes problem-solving interventions and strategies for the protection and advancement of human well-being. Thus, social policy practice enhances and challenges the social work profession’s delivery, examination, and evaluation of social justice through policy development and analysis, planning, and implementation.

Article

Political Interventions  

Megan Meyer

Since the Progressive Era, social workers have played important roles in political struggles and social movements for social justice. They have advocated for, designed, and implemented an array of domestic and international social policies and have increasingly campaigned for and held political office. Even so, there has been considerable ambivalence within the profession about the extent to which social workers should engage in political action, considered by some to be “radical” social work. A major challenge facing the profession during the 21st century is to ensure that social work programs and associations prepare students and practitioners to understand the impact of political processes on their and their clients’ lives and to develop the skills to identify the forms of political intervention that are effective for different goals and different political, social, and economic contexts.

Article

Political Process and Youth Empowerment  

Jason Anthony Plummer

The political process refers to how individuals and groups make their concerns known to political actors. The animating force of the political process is social power. To that end, social workers should acquire political knowledge (e.g., factual understanding of voting rights) and critical analysis skills (e.g., an awareness of how social inequalities affect political outcomes) in order to support their clients’ and communities’ engagement in the political process.

Article

Political Social Work  

Suzanne Pritzker and Shannon R. Lane

Political social work navigates power in policymaking and politics to elicit social change. It is grounded in core social work values and ethics, including the professional responsibility to challenge systemic discrimination and institutional inequalities through political action. Political social workers address systemic barriers to social, political, economic, and racial justice, and engage in political action to promote individual and communal well-being through policy processes and outcomes. This article discusses the five domains of political social work: engaging individuals and communities in political processes; influencing policy agendas and decision-making; holding professional and political staff positions; engaging with electoral campaigns; and seeking and holding elected office. It also examines social workers’ political activity in the United States and globally, the role of social work education, and challenges for political social work, including the profession’s legacy of supporting injustices and tensions around the role of political social work, and identifies opportunities to address these barriers.

Article

Poverty  

Mark R. Rank

Poverty has been a subject of concern since the beginnings of social work. Three fundamental areas are of importance in understanding the nature of poverty in the United States. First, the extent and dynamics of poverty are examined, including the measurement of poverty, patterns of cross-sectional and comparative poverty rates, the longitudinal dynamics of poverty, and poverty as a life-course risk. Second, reasons for poverty are discussed. These are divided into individual- versus structural-level explanations. The concept of structural vulnerability is offered as a way of bridging key individual and structural determinants to better understand the existence of poverty. Finally, strategies and solutions to poverty are briefly reviewed.

Article

Predictive Analytics and Big Data  

Oscar E. Cariceo, Murali Nair, and Wahaj Bokhari

Predictive analytics is a set of techniques and an advanced methodological and research approach that seeks to reach conclusions about the future, rather than explanations of specific issues or phenomena. The fast growth in popularity and application of data science to different businesses and activities, such as human services and nonprofit management, are related to the emergence and consolidation of big data. In terms of digital networking, the availability of data produced by individuals every day is enormous. Tools and techniques such as machine learning, deep learning, visualization, time series analysis, networking analysis, natural language processing, and text mining may help support evidence-based practice for social workers. Predictive analytics and big data offer an opportunity to enhance innovative social change and people’s well-being.

Article

Privatization  

Andrew Dobelstein

Privatizing social services has taken a new turn as America enters the 21st century. Although it was once possible to separate private and public social services, the growing trend toward public–private partnerships has made such earlier distinctions meaningless since more and more private social services are supported with public money. There are advantages and disadvantages inherent in the mixing of public and private social services, but perhaps the greatest problem may be the support of a growing trend for all levels of government to dissociate themselves from their longstanding public social service responsibilities.

Article

Privilege  

Ovita F. Williams and Cheryl L. Franks

Sitting in a place of having an unearned benefit because of a particular social identity or social group membership is defined by the term privilege. Privilege is described as advantages across multiple dimensions of identity, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, age, ability status and more. For example, white privilege is the types of access white people have in society because of the color of their skin. This includes access to better schools, higher pay, good housing, and more. Privilege offers protection, advantage, access to resources, and limited surveillance. Privilege implies the freedom to be allowed to navigate easily through daily activities and life milestones, and to benefit from long-term advantages and gains. Social groups that have privilege reap specific benefits, which ultimately means another social group doesn’t have the same advantages and are thus disadvantaged, often severely. The social work profession demands social justice is sought, and in this effort, it is important to recognize that, where privileges are granted to people because of an observed social identity, this is harmful and creates systems and structures of oppression. Understanding how privilege operates to oppress and subjugate people increases the ability to see these injustices and inspires people to seek equity and liberation.

Article

Psychoeducation  

Joseph Walsh

Psychoeducation, which describes a range of direct interventions that are focused on participants' education, support, and coping skills development, has become extremely popular in social work practice since the 1970s. Such programs are delivered in many service settings and with many types of client populations. This article includes a definition of the term, a review of its origins in social work practice, its range of applications, the practice theories, and professional values from which it draws, and a review of the research evidence for its utility.

Article

Public Health Social Work  

Sarah Gehlert, Julie A. Cederbaum, and Betty J. Ruth

Public health social work is a substantive area within the discipline of social work that applies social work and public health theories, frameworks, research, and collaborative practices to address contemporary health issues through a transdisciplinary lens. It is epidemiologically informed and characterized by prevention, health promotion, and other integrative practices. With its strong focus on health impact and population health, public health social work is central to the profession’s viability and success for tackling pervasive 21st-century challenges, such as health inequity, behavioral health integration, chronic disease, health reform implementation, and global health.

Article

Quality Assurance  

Karun K. Singh

Quality assurance (QA) is a widely accepted management function that is intended to ensure that services provided to consumers meet agreed-upon standards. Standards come from professional organizations, evidence-based practices, and public policies that specify outcomes for consumers. QA systems consist of measurement, comparison of findings to standards, and feedback to practitioners and managers. There is emerging, but limited, research that indicates QA can be an effective strategy for improving outcomes for consumers.

Article

Queer Communities, LGBTQIA2S+ Populations, and Macro Practice  

Michael P. Dentato

Related to understanding queer identities, an ongoing need exists for the expansion of competency among social workers across micro and macro practice frameworks. Practitioners must be aware of their own positionality and use of cultural humility associated with practice and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and two-spirit+ (LGBTQIA2S+) communities, which include those identifying as demisexual, omnisexual, and pansexual, among others. Relatedly, social workers must be attentive to evolving terminology and contexts through which the term queer has been defined over the years, as well as relevant challenges with connectedness to (or separation from) the larger LGBTQIA2S+ community. Age cohort associations and the role of intersectionality also have relevance and underscore the multidimensional discourse necessary to develop effective competency and the ability to engage in affirming macro practice with queer communities. Social work practitioners must understand the implications for best practices associated with establishing and maintaining an affirming alliance with queer clients via policy practice efforts, advocacy efforts, community organizing, service provision, or therapeutic context. In addition, there remains a continued need for ongoing research associated with understanding the unique needs of queer identities and the queer community at large.

Article

Radical Social Work  

Mary Bricker-Jenkins, Rosemary Barbera, and Barbara Hunter-Randall Joseph

Since the beginning of the profession, radical social work has avowed a commitment to practice dedicated to advancing human rights and social and economic justice. Since the 1980s, the rise of neoliberal global capitalism has vitiated support for robust social welfare programs; its conservatizing effect on the profession has rendered the radical agenda both more urgent and more difficult. Ensuing polarization in the economic, social, and political arenas has been mirrored in the profession as well: differences widen between the micro and macro realms and privatization engulfs the public welfare arena; the epistemological bases of knowledge and prevailing theories form competing camps; the entire project of social work for social welfare is challenged as Eurocentric and implicitly white supremacist. Radical social work has responded to these challenges with innovation and energy, deriving insight from and participating in spontaneous uprisings and resistance, while engaging theoretical and practical conundrums.

Article

Refugee Resettlement Policy and Macro Practice  

Odessa Gonzalez Benson, Karin Wachter, and Cherra Mathis

Resettlement-related macro practice reflects a complicated history of immigration and refugee resettlement in the United States, as well as international and domestic policies that shape opportunities and services available to refugees who resettle through these mechanisms. Four intersecting domains of resettlement macro practice are (a) community organizing and community development, (b) advocacy, (c) policy analysis and development, and (d) community-centered management and program planning. To engage meaningfully in macro social work requires a grasp of the history and policies that drive decision-making of individual practitioners and shape the experiences of people resettling to the United States in search of safety and new beginnings. Research and participatory approaches are integral to resettlement macro practice to ensure refugee communities are at the center of all efforts to inform structural and systemic change.

Article

Reproductive Health Justice  

Silvia M. Chávez-Baray, Eva M. Moya, and Omar Martinez

Reproductive health endeavors in regard to prevention, treatment, and emerging disparities and inequities like lack of access to comprehensive and equitable reproductive health for immigrants and LGBTQ+ populations are discussed. Practice-based approaches for reproductive health justice and access care models, to advance reproductive justice, are included. Implications for macro social work practice and historical perspectives, practices, and social movements of reproductive health justice in the United States to promote reproductive health justice in the context of political, legal, health, and social justice efforts are salient to advance social justice.

Article

Research: Overview  

Denise M. Green and Samantha M. Ellis

Macro social work research may be defined as an in-depth, systematic investigation into a subject pertaining to macro systems that requires gathering data, information, and facts to advance knowledge within communities, organizations, social networks, policy, social structures, and the determination of the efficacy of macro practice interventions. Macro social work research is unique because it provides an exceptional opportunity to pursue a particular interest in a specific area of study. While the process of research is seated in a long history of propriety, modern macro research is seen as the quintessential essence of engaged learning that can be theory-driven or atheoretical while maintaining rigor. Additionally, macro research increases innovation, organization, communication, critical thinking, time and project management, and problem-solving skills. Finally, macro research can often lead to determinations as to the merit and worth of the researched entity. With the intent to progress knowledge that is consistent with scientific inquiry, the types of research and their application to macro social work research are outlined: (a) descriptive research, (b) exploratory research, (c) explanatory (cause and effect) research, and (d) evaluative (program evaluation) research. Particular emphasis will be placed on evaluative (program evaluation) research due to its extensive use in macro social work.

Article

Responses to Environmental Change  

Lisa Reyes Mason, Susan P. Kemp, Lawrence A. Palinkas, and Amy Krings

Communities worldwide are facing environmental crises such as air pollution, water shortages, climate change, and other forms of environmental change and degradation. While technical solutions for environmental change are essential, so too are solutions that consider social acceptability, value cultural relevance, and prioritize equity and social justice. Social work has a critical and urgent role in creating and implementing macrolevel social responses to environmental change. The key concepts of environmental change, environmental and ecological justice, social vulnerability, and social responses are discussed. A description of the roles and skills unique to macro social workers for this effort is given, followed by examples of macrolevel strategies and interventions. Opportunities and directions for future social work responses to a changing environment are identified.

Article

Restorative Justice  

Katherine van Wormer

Restorative justice is an umbrella term for a victim-oriented method of righting a wrong, promoting healing following conflict, and providing a sense of safety in the aftermath of violence. Restorative justice refers not only to a number of strategies for resolving conflicts peacefully but also to a political campaign of sorts to advocate for the rights of victims and compassionate treatment of offenders. Instead of incarceration, for example, the option of community service coupled with substance abuse treatment might be favored. When the offender is an organization or governing body, reparations to affected individuals or populations might be in order. From the offender’s standpoint, accountability and truth-telling are stressed, as the offender typically offers to make amends for the harm that was done. From the victim/survivor’s standpoint, a key theme is empowerment, through receiving an apology from the wrongdoer and receiving the support of caring participants. Several models of restorative justice are relevant to social work, including victim–offender conferencing (sometimes incorrectly referred to as mediation), family group conferencing, healing circles, and community reparations. Social work involvement in the field of restorative justice occurs at all levels of practice. Its application in the context of macro social work involves communities, policy, and organizations.

Article

Settlements and Neighborhood Centers  

Robert Fisher, Michael Fabricant, and Lukas Champagne

Settlement houses are one prism through which the contested history of macro social work can be viewed. The early settlements spearheaded social reform while building community solidarity. Historic shifts in the political economy changed the work of settlements, particularly the development of neighborhood houses. The dynamic interplay in the past decades between the corporatization of not-for-profit culture, shrinking government funding, and a redefinition of settlement services have particularly affected settlement work. The traditional view of settlements and neighborhood centers, that located people of color, especially Black people who addressed structural barriers and offered transformative solutions, outside its gaze has missed a good deal of history. Needless to say, this is not meant to be an all-inclusive listing of resources and readings nor the last word on settlement macro practice and macro challenges.

Article

Sexual Harassment  

Sondra J. Fogel and Doris A. Boateng

Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination as well as a complex social issue with psychological implications for both those who are harassed and those who perpetrate the harassment. Women continue to be primary targets, although men, youths, and sexual minorities are increasingly pursued. Legally prohibited in the workplace and educational institutions, sexual harassment persists in personal interactions as well as by electronic means despite prevention efforts such as education programs and zero-tolerance policies. This entry will define sexual harassment, provide an overview of its prevalence, and describe approaches for its remedy.