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Article

African Americans: Immigrants of African Origin  

Fariyal Ross-Sheriff and Tamarah Moss-Knight

The number and percentage of immigrants and refugees from Africa to the United States have increased substantially since the mid-1990s. Though still a relatively small percentage of the immigrant population, immigrants from Africa encounter many challenges that are important for social work professionals to address. This entry examines two groups of immigrants from Africa: legal migrants (immigrants) and refugees. It provides information on distinctive characteristics of recent African immigrants, reasons for emigration from Africa, challenges they face in the United States, and their settlement (geographical distribution) patterns. While black Africans are the focus of this entry, the research literature does not provide clear distinctions within the group of African immigrants. The emphasis is on black African immigrants to the United States as their experience is unique in terms of their race in America and the types of stigma and discrimination they face as a result. Critical issues for social work practice are examined through a case example of Somali refugees, followed by implications for social work practice and research.

Article

Arab Americans  

Kristine J. Ajrouch

This entry defines the term Arab American, followed by a discussion of the two waves of immigration: before 1924 and post-1965. A demographic overview is presented next, drawing from data available through analysis of the ancestry question on the long form of the United States Census. Previously invisible in the scholarly and practice literatures, key concerns related to stereotypes emanating through recent world events, assumptions about gender relations, and struggles concerning family relations are highlighted. Finally, practice implications are considered, with an emphasis on cultural sensitivity and social justice. The term Arab American is relatively new, signifying a pan-ethnic term meant to capture a diverse group of people who differ with respect to national origins, religion, and historical experiences of migration to the United States. Arab American refers to those individuals whose ancestors arrived from Arab-speaking countries, including 22 nations in North Africa and West Asia. Religious faiths include both Christian and Muslim; Lebanon is the number one country of origin for Arab immigrants to the United States, followed by Syria and Egypt. Defined objectively, any individual with ancestral ties to an Arabic-speaking country may be considered an Arab American. This characterization, however, rests upon a language-based definition, obscuring the cultural and structural variations that differentiate those who fall within this pan-ethnic category (Ajrouch & Jamal, 2007).

Article

Asylum Seekers, Refugees, and Immigrants in the United States  

Miriam Potocky and Mitra Naseh

This article presents introductory information on asylum seekers, refugees, and immigrants in the United States, including distinctions among them, major regions of origin, demographic, and socioeconomic characteristics, challenges in social, economic, and cultural adaptation, and best practices for social work with these populations.

Article

Child Soldiers  

Julie Guyot-Diangone

This article provides an overview of the phenomenon of child soldiers in war theaters around the world. Research studies are used to illustrate the deficits approach frequently applied to young people’s involvement in armed combat. In addition to a review of the legal protections surrounding the involvement of children in armed conflict, this article broadens the discourse on child soldiers. Diversity is introduced to counter the monolithic characterization of the child soldier, including descriptions of the various forms, levels, and dimensions participation may take, affecting all spheres of life—providing a holistic, community-level view not limited to individualized intrapsychic experiences. The subject of the child soldier has been approached through scholarship from a number of disciplines and centers on reintegration practices, the use of children as a military strategy, the process of weaponizing children, children’s moral development, and the use of traditional healing practices. Core social work ethics, along with the discipline’s strengths-based approach to inquiry are employed to further counter the narrative of “brokenness” that is prevalent in these fields. The introduction of resilience factors is used to broaden awareness of the diversity of outcomes among the various cohorts studied. Childhood as a social construction is discussed, along with its Western-informed biases. Humanitarian aid and development bodies have structured educational programs and livelihood opportunities to assist former child soldiers reintegrate into post-conflict societies, and Western understandings of childhood influence the architecture of these efforts. Although protections surrounding the involvement of minors in armed conflict have grown, the use of child soldiers remains. The article uses the Convention of the Rights of the Child along with the African Charter on Children in Armed Conflict to help unpack the disparate meanings of what it means to be a child within various sociocultural contexts.

Article

Community Healing and Reconciliation  

Joshua Kirven and George Jacinto

Community healing and reconciliation have been a focus of many nations in response to civil war, genocide, and other conflicts. There also has been an increase in the number of high-profile murders of young African Americans at the hands of law enforcement in the United States. In 2020 this problem was even more real and growing with the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and Ahmaud Arbery. These tragic incidents have led to public outcry, civil unrest, and police protests for social change moving from a threshold of peaceful assemblies to violent confrontations across the United States causing the world to take notice and posit the question, “do Black lives really matter?” To answer this question a critical overview of gun violence, a reflective aftermath of the killings of two African American youths in Sanford, Florida and Cleveland, Ohio, and the community’s voice and reaction and the community’s resiliency towards healing and reconciliation are examined. Community model initiatives are introduced of the two cities affected in bridging police-community relations through acknowledging and addressing historical injustices with police and systematic racism and how they attempted to bring positive change, healing and reconciliation.

Article

Critical Race Studies  

Larry Ortiz and Susan Nakaoka

Critical race theory originated in law as a framework for legal studies analyzing the United States’ persistent racial divide. As an upstream theory, it focuses on the underlying social structures and cultural assumptions upholding White supremacy. Since the early 2000s, social work scholars have begun to apply critical race theory tenets to all aspects of the profession, from education to practice. Considering social work’s historic commitment to social justice, and the most recent declarations of the Council on Social Work Education as committed to antiracist education, this article advances the idea that critical race studies in social work is necessary, but the relationship requires serious and ongoing interrogation to unearth the profession’s White supremist roots.

Article

Ecological Social Work  

Uschi Bay

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.

Article

Genocide  

Jacquelyn C.A. Meshelemiah and Raven E. Lynch

Genocides have persisted around the world for centuries, yet the debate persists about what intentions and subsequent actions constitute an actual genocide. As a result, some crimes against humanity, targeted rape campaigns, and widespread displacement of marginalized groups of people around the globe have not been formally recognized as a genocide by world powers while others have. The 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide set out to provide clarity about what constituted a genocide and the corresponding expected behaviors of nations that bear witness to it. Still, even with this United Nations document in place, there remains some debate about genocides. The United States, a superpower on the world stage, did not sign on to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide until 1988 due to a belief that its participation was not necessary as a civilized world leader that had its own checks and balances. More genocides have taken place since the enactment of this 1948 legislation. Genocides that have taken place pre- and post-1948 affirm the need for nations around the world to agree to a set of behaviors that protect targeted groups of people from mass destruction and prescribe punishment for those who perpetrate such atrocities. Although it may seem that identifying genocidal behaviors toward a group of people would be clear and convincing based on witnesses and/or deaths of targeted members, history has shown this not to be the case time and time again. Perpetrators tend to deny such behaviors or claim innocence in the name of self-defense. Regardless of any acknowledgment of wrongdoing, genocides are the world’s greatest crime against humanity.

Article

Global Community Practice  

Manohar Pawar and Marie Weil

This article presents an integrated perspective and framework for global practice toward achieving the Global Agenda developed by international social work organizations. First, it presents “global practice” as a progressive, comprehensive, and future-oriented term that encompasses social work and social, economic, and sustainable development at multiple levels: local, national, regional, international, multinational, and global. Second, it discusses the origin and 21st-century understanding of the Global Agenda for social work. Third, it deliberates on ways of moving forward on the Global Agenda at multiple levels through an integrated perspectives framework consisting of global, ecological, human rights, and social development perspectives to guide practice. Finally, it concludes that global practice and the Global Agenda need to be translated into local-level social work and development practice and local-level agendas, making a case for social work and sustainable social development leadership and practice at grassroots and national levels.

Article

Historical and Intergenerational Trauma  

Laurie A. Walker and Turquoise Skye Devereaux

Historical trauma originated with the social construction of subordinate group statuses through migration, annexation of land, and colonialism. The consequences of creating subordinate group statuses include genocide, segregation, and assimilation. Settler colonialism takes land with militaristic control, labels local inhabitants as deviant and inferior, then violently confines and oppresses the original occupants of the land. Confinement includes relocation, restriction of movement, settlement of lands required for sustenance, as well as confinement in orphanages, boarding schools, and prisons. Historical trauma includes suppression of language, culture, and religion with the threat of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Original inhabitant abuse often results in issues with health, mental health, substance abuse, and generational emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Culturally safe (engagement that respects identity) and trauma-informed social work practices acknowledge the systemic causes of disparities in groups experiencing marginalization and oppression and focus on healing and addressing systemic causes of disparities.

Article

Immigration Policies in the United States  

Uma A. Segal

Immigrants from around the globe form a continuous stream to the United States, with waiting lists for entry stretching to several years. Reasons for ongoing arrivals are readily apparent; the United States continues to be one of the most attractive nations in the world, regardless of old and new problems. There is much in the United States that native-born Americans take for granted and that is not available in most other countries, and there are several amenities, opportunities, possibilities, lifestyles, and freedoms in the United States that do not appear to be found together in any other nation. In theory, and often in reality, the United States is a land of freedom, of equality, of opportunity, of a superior quality of life, of easy access to education, and of relatively few human rights violations. This entry will focus on policy most relevant to migrants as is evidenced through legislative history and its impact on demographic trends, the economy, the workforce, educational and social service systems, ethical issues, and roles for social workers. “Immigration policy” should be distinguished from “immigrant policy.” The former is a screening tool determining eligibility entry into a country; the latter, on the other hand, provides insight into national policies specifically designed to enable integration (or segregation) of immigrants once they have entered its borders.

Article

Indigenous and Tribal Communities  

Megan G. Sage

Indigenous populations have experienced hundreds of years of historical trauma, systemic racism, and oppression since colonization began in the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand. Settler colonialism has created and continues to perpetuate historical and ongoing trauma and systemic racism in Indigenous populations. Despite considerable diversity and resilience among Indigenous populations globally, there is a clear pattern of significant disparities and disproportionate burden of disease compared to other non-Indigenous populations, including higher rates of poverty, mortality, substance use, mental health and health issues, suicide, and lower life expectancy at birth. Substantial gaps related to access to healthcare and service utilization exist, particularly in low-income Indigenous communities. Implementation and sustainment of White dominant-culture frameworks of care in Indigenous communities perpetuate these systems of oppression. Development and implementation of culturally informed services that address historical trauma and oppression, and systematically integrate concepts of resiliency, empowerment, and self-determination into care, are issues of policy as well as practice in social work. The co-creation and subsequent implementation, monitoring, and sustainment of effective systems of care with Indigenous populations are essential in addressing health disparities and improving outcomes among Indigenous populations globally.

Article

Indigenous Peoples and Cultural Survival  

Priscilla A. Day

Indigenous people across the globe are struggling for the cultural survival of their families and communities. This article provides an overview of indigenous people across the world and some of the many challenges they face to keep their cultures alive and strong. Indigenous peoples live throughout the world and share many common characteristics, which are described in detail in the article. Historical and contemporary challenges affecting cultural survival are provided, including accounts of the history of colonization and some of its lasting impacts on indigenous people and their cultures. Bolivia is highlighted as a country that has embraced the “living well” concept. The article closes by encouraging people to learn about and become allies with indigenous people because, ultimately, we are all impacted by the same threats.

Article

International Social Work and Social Welfare: Africa (Sub-Sahara)  

Kwaku Osei-Hwedie

Africa is one of the world's poorest regions and it faces numerous and complex challenges as it strives to achieve its development objectives. The main challenges relate to poverty and its alleviation, economic growth, democratization leading to political stability, improving social welfare, and generally creating a just and equitable society. The resolution of these issues is critical to social work if the profession is to make an impact.

Article

International Social Work and Social Welfare: Asia  

Ngoh Tiong Tan

Asia contains more than 60% of the world’s population and is the fastest growing economic region. However, it faces challenges, including poverty, HIV and AIDS, and human rights concerns. In the midst of rapid changes in the social–political context, social workers and welfare organizations are making a significant contribution in addressing these challenges and improving social well-being in the region by broadening indigenous social networks to incorporate private, public, and community interventions.

Article

International Social Work and Social Welfare: Australia and Pacific Islands  

Kylie Agllias and Mel Gray

Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand are among the world's most liveable countries, despite the increase in relative poverty and the negative effect of past policies on indigenous populations. Social work is well established and is social-justice oriented. Social work is an emerging profession in the Pacific Islands, where economic and social potential is often hampered by political instability and a lack of sustainable economic management, rapid urbanization, and unemployment.

Article

International Social Work and Social Welfare: Central America  

Maria Julia

The social, political, and economic features of Central America are summarized and the impact of economic and political processes on the region is highlighted. Predominant global, historical, cultural, and political events are weaved together, in an attempt to understand the realities of the region. The challenges for social work profession and practice are presented, as well as their implications for new approaches to intervention and education.

Article

International Social Work and Social Welfare: Europe  

David N. Jones

Europe includes not only some of the most economically and socially developed countries in the world but also some of the poorest. Social work as a profession has been well established for over 100 years within a variety of social welfare models; the countries in Central and Eastern Europe have re-established social work since the 1990s. The financial crisis of 2007/2008 and its aftermath, followed by the challenges of migration from war zones and Africa, have had a significant impact on the politics and social policy of the region and the resources available for social services and social work in most countries. These events are provoking a re-evaluation of the European Social Model. Some argue that they have also fueled the rise in electoral support for far right, nationalist, anti-immigration, and populist parties, seen also in other continents. The decision of the United Kingdom to break away from the EU, following a referendum in 2016, and the increase in support for anti-EU parties in other countries are having a profound social and political impact across the region.

Article

International Social Work and Social Welfare: Middle East and North Africa  

John R. Graham and Alean Al-Krenawi

North African and Middle Eastern nations have an 80-year history with social work, based on colonial, imported models of practice. There is some success in localizing social work to immediate communities. Social welfare tends to be instrumental, selective, and not comprehensive. Colonialism has hurt political institutions; and geopolitical conflicts, socioeconomic inequality, poverty, and political repression also influence parameters of social work and social change.

Article

International Social Work and Social Welfare: North America  

Wes Shera

North America is one of the world's richest regions, and both the United States and Canada are ranked in the top 10 of the United Nations Human Development Index. However, poverty and inequality, and in particular, child poverty continues to be a significant problem. Social workers in both countries provide a wide array of human services to a range of populations. Social work has developed into a mature profession but is currently struggling to meet the increasing demand for its services.