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Article

Evidence-Based Macro Practice  

Erick G. Guerrero, Tenie Khachikian, and Murali Nair

Evidence-based macro practices (EBMPs) rely on the best available evidence to promote system change. The field of social work needs to develop, implement, and disseminate EBMPs to respond to increasing public accountability to deliver cost-effective interventions that promote health and well-being among vulnerable populations. There are several evidence-based macro practices at the community and organizational levels that have potential to improve the effectiveness of social work practice. These EBMPs, their components, and the critical role they play in improving interventions and enacting change at a macro level are important. Building science in social work, informing practice in the 21st century, and effectively responding to system-wide challenges (e.g., epidemics, institutional racism, growing inequality) that disproportionally impact the health and well-being of the most vulnerable members of our society are important areas to explore.

Article

Social Work Education for Macro Practice  

Michael P. Dentato

The profession of social work is based in a rich history of macro practice and the promotion of social justice for all diverse communities. Over the years, while the field of social work education has shifted its focus between macro and micro frameworks, there is a continued resurgence of efforts promoting the integration of mezzo- and macro-practice content within social work curricula and field placement experiences across degree programs. In that regard, social work students must be adequately trained in macro-practice theory, interventions, assessment, and evaluation, as well as they must understand its unique intersection with mezzo and micro frameworks. Additionally, to effectively serve diverse populations, macro social work students must raise consciousness, increase self-awareness, and continually practice through the lens of cultural humility. Ultimately, the effective preparation and readiness of social work students for direct macro practice in fields such as program management, leadership, fundraising, advocacy, community organizing, and policy practice remains essential and understudied.

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.

Article

The Life Model of Social Work Practice: A Macro View  

Alex Gitterman and Carolyn Knight

From its earliest days and roots in the Settlement House and Charity Organization Society movements, the social work profession has debated whether its focus should be on social change in the pursuit of social justice or on treatment in pursuit of social functioning. The Life Model of social work practice integrates these two approaches to improving the lives and functioning of individuals, families, groups, and communities into a coherent whole. Professional skills and strategies of life-modeled social work practice empower clients to address life stressors and overcome traumatic experiences. Life-modeled social workers also develop the skills needed to influence organizations to be more responsive to clients’ needs, mobilize communities to engage in collective action, and advocate for legislative and regulatory policies that promote social justice.

Article

Organizational Learning  

Yekutiel Sabah and Patricia Cook-Craig

The professional commitment of practitioners in a changing society requires them to continuously acquire new professional knowledge. Since robust and relevant knowledge is often in short supply, practitioners must learn to acquire the knowledge they need. Similarly, social agencies must become institutions that support the use of available knowledge and the development of practice innovations. Organizational learning is a means of engaging in this process. This implies that social agencies both adopt an organizational culture and create structural arrangements conducive to learning. In order to successfully create such a culture and structure, it is first important to understand the philosophical, conceptual, and methodological underpinnings of organizational learning as a strategy for guiding practitioners and organizations in a systematic endeavor to invent and manage knowledge. In addition a methodology for the application of organizational learning in social services is essential to practical application. The use of organizational learning methods to drive innovation and knowledge management has been applied in a varied spectrum of social work practice areas and social welfare agencies.

Article

Rural Practice in Macro Settings  

Laura Trull, H. Stephen Cooper, and Freddie L. Avant

Rural social work, the history of which stretches back more than a century, has been revitalized since the mid-1970s. The renewed interest in rural social work has led to an increase in scholarship on rural social work practice, much of which is a direct result of the efforts of the Rural Social Work Caucus and its annual National Institute on Social Work and Human Services in Rural Areas, as well as social work influence in rural organizations in allied professions. Recent research endeavors have moved our understanding of the differences between rural and urban communities beyond the common definitions, which are limited to population and population density. We have also come to realize that there are many different types of rural communities, all of which have different characteristics, needs, and so forth. Rural practitioners and researchers have also reached a better understanding of the following: rural culture and lifestyles, the importance of approaching rural communities from a strengths perspective rather than a deficit or problem focus, and the challenges to rural practice presented by the characteristics that are common across rural communities (e.g., lack of anonymity, dual relationships). Rural areas have also been sharply and uniquely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not surprisingly, the increase in research on rural social work practice has been accompanied by an interest in preparing social workers for rural practice and growth in the number of graduate programs focused on such. The importance of these programs lies in the unique nature of the challenges faced by rural communities. For example, many rural communities are experiencing sharp population declines while at the same time seeing substantial increases in adults who are 65 years of age and older. Other common trends include economic decline and subsequent increase in social issues; substantial issues with substance abuse, especially methamphetamine and opioids; lack of technology infrastructure; concerns related to the environment and/or conversation of natural resources; and lack of services for veterans. The key to successfully addressing these issues in rural communities is involvement from social workers who are prepared to practice in the rural context.

Article

Empowerment Practices  

Debora Ortega and Jessica Rodriguez-JenKins

Empowerment practices are rooted in empowerment theory and fundamentally focus on power as a source of equity and inequity. Based on transformation ideology, empowerment is a counter to perceived and objective powerlessness. Amelioration of client problems contain both personal and structural dimensions and are accomplished through multilevel interventions. In this approach to practice, the professional is not the central power figure who assesses, designs, implements, and intervenes on behalf of the client. Rather, historically marginalized people, families, and communities are considered experts in their experience of problems. Empowerment practices are rooted in an understanding of power (personal, social, and structural), consciousness transformation, interactive systems, importance of relationships, and the long history of societal dehumanization of marginalized communities. In this model, social work research is characterized as a form of practice that is influenced by larger social inequities and can be used to reproduce inequity or create partnerships for change with marginalized communities.

Article

Social Justice  

Janet L. Finn, Jen Molloy, and Ashley Trautman

The concept of social justice is significant as a core value of social work. Conceptualizations of social justice are diverse, with important philosophical underpinnings. A range of philosophical perspectives influences social work’s conceptualization of social justice, including those of John Rawls, Amartya Sen, Martha Nussbaum, Nancy Fraser, and Iris Marion Young. The roots of social justice are traced through social work history, from the settlement house movement to the rank and file movement, the civil rights movement, and contemporary struggles in the context of globalization and neoliberalism. Challenges for social justice-oriented practice in the 21st century are addressed. Examples are provided of ways in which social workers are translating principles of social justice into concrete practices.

Article

Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Macro Social Work  

Monica Nandan and Gokul Mandayam

Social workers possess skills, values, and perspectives that enable them to practice as social innovators, intrapreneurs, and entrepreneurs. Given the complex, dynamic, and challenging contexts for social work practice, these strategies have become essential for social workers to continue creating social value and social good. The article Herein are described strategies, rationale for social workers to practice in a socially innovative, intrapreneurial, or entrepreneurial fashion; parallels between these strategies and social work practice; and a case is built for the social work curriculum to include content related to these strategies.

Article

Lobbying  

Sunny Harris Rome and Sabrina Gillan Kiser

Lobbying is the process of influencing public policy. It involves developing and implementing strategies to persuade those in power. Consistent with the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics and the Global Social Statement of Ethical Principles, many social workers participate in lobbying campaigns to advance the well-being of their clients and to promote social justice. Some social workers become professional lobbyists, focusing their careers on government relations work. Successful lobbying involves forming and nurturing relationships with decision-makers and generating and sharing information. Key elements of a lobbying campaign include agenda setting, meeting with policymakers, coalition building, field organizing, testifying, and the strategic use of media. Social work education provides opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills necessary for engaging in lobbying efforts. Lobbying activity is regulated by government entities; although social workers and their employers should understand and comply with these rules, social workers are encouraged to remain as active as possible within these parameters. Future challenges include the demand for evidence to support policy recommendations and the inadequate numbers of social workers pursuing lobbying careers. While social workers can apply these concepts to international practice, this entry predominantly focuses on lobbying within the United States.

Article

Social Work Macro History  

Eva M. Moya, David Stoesz, Mark Lusk, and Silvia M. Chávez-Baray

A broad overview of the professionalization of social work in the United States is presented while illustrating how developments in social work stimulated the emergence of macro social work as a field of practice. The history of macro practice’s dedication to social justice, human rights, and the eradication of poverty through macro-level strategies is reviewed. Influential forces, practice challenges, and initiatives responsible for the establishment and continued movement within the field are highlighted. How macro practice fits within the Specialized Practice Curricular Guide for Macro Social Work Practice (2018) and the Grand Challenges for Social Work (2015) is reviewed, along with future endeavors in macro social work.

Article

Indigenous Peoples  

Andrea Tamburro and Paul-Rene Tamburro

Macro social work practice with Indigenous people requires additional knowledge and advanced skill development. It is essential to learn about the diversity and complexity of Indian Country and Indigenous worldviews. Combining community development skills with cultural humility and an understanding of technological developments, land rights issues, globalization, multiracial race relations, and multigenerational trauma can lead to effective practice with Indigenous people and communities. In all social work practice, the importance of tradition, consultation, consensus, and noninterference are essential to the development of organizations, advocacy, and community planning. As social work is an evidence-based profession, seeking information from the community and literature by Indigenous authors can support the work in administration and organizations, community, and policy practice.

Article

State Fiscal Policy  

Alexis P. Tsoukalas

America’s individualistic national identity and regressive tax systems that favor corporations and the wealthy over everyday people have increasingly exacerbated inequality. Meanwhile, social welfare needs continue to outpace the resources governments employ to address them. While fiscal issues can be complex and opaque, holding governments accountable is imperative to counter long-standing oppression of those identifying as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), women, immigrants, and others. How state governments, in particular, raise and expend revenue has a dramatic effect on the public, especially as the federal government continues to decentralize social welfare to the states. Social workers are uniquely equipped to influence this arena, given their person-in-environment view and having borne witness to the numerous ways misguided priorities have severely harmed those they are called to serve.

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

Integrating Macro–Micro Practice  

Jason A. Ostrander, Kerry Kelly, and Patricia Carl-Stannard

Social work sets itself apart in the “helping professions” in recognizing the significance of its students and practitioners engaging with the theoretical knowledge and practice experiences sufficient for fluency across macro to micro settings. This practice integration assures comprehensive understanding of person-in-environment, from casework to complex systems work, and is raised to an ethical standard in the National Association of Social Work Code of Ethics and in the International Federation of Social Work Principles. Yet macro-oriented scholars have accused social work educators and professionals of abandoning their obligation to social justice and policy participation and of focusing their energy instead on micro practice. This literature is helpful in addressing how integrated practice can be achieved and informs the development of social workers who solidly embrace a commitment to macro knowledge and participation.

Article

Corporate Settings  

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.

Article

Macro Social Work Practice  

F. Ellen Netting, M. Lori Thomas, and Jan Ivery

Macro social work practice includes those activities performed in organizational, community, and policy arenas. Macro practice has a diverse history that reveals conflicting ideologies and draws from interdisciplinary perspectives within the United States and around the world. Much has been written about how to balance macro and micro roles and how social work education can inform this balance. Organization and community theories, as well as theories of power, politics, and change inform macro practice. Macro practice models and methods include organization and community practice; community organizing, development, and planning; and policy practice, all of which underscore the social work profession’s emphasis on using a person-in-environment perspective. Underlying issues and future opportunities for macro practitioners include, but are not limited to, addressing equity, inclusion, and human rights; leading sustainability and environmental justice efforts; recognizing the importance of data, evidence, and accountability; and keeping up-to-date on technology and innovation.

Article

The Special Commission to Advance Macro Practice  

Darlyne Bailey, Terry Mizrahi, and Jenay Smith

The original goal of the Special Commission to Advance Macro Practice in Social Work was to increase macro social work courses and enrollments in master of social work programs to 20% nationally by 2020. Some saw this as more of a vision, with the numbers in 2013 closer to 8%. Nonetheless, through partnerships with other organizations, forming collaborations and networks, and joining advocacy coalitions, the Special Commission continues to move forward to achieve this goal. The essence of the Special Commission’s purpose remains the same: to monitor and reinforce the viability of macro social work education in professional schools and programs to ensure the most effective social work practice for all served. This article provides the story of the Special Commission from inception through early 2022. It begins with the history (i.e., mission, leadership, structure, staffing, systems, and strategy), highlights accomplishments to date, and concludes with the envisioned future directions of the Special Commission along with anticipated challenges and opportunities. A case example in the appendix describes the process by which the Special Commission engaged its allies and supporters to complete major projects.

Article

Critical Pedagogy in Community Practice  

Laurie A. Walker

Contemporary community engagement pedagogies require critical frameworks that facilitate diverse groups working collaboratively toward socially just outcomes. Critical frameworks acknowledge different ways of knowing and experiencing the world, as well as many means to achieve the desired outcomes. Indigenous values focused on relationship, respect, reciprocity, responsiveness, relevance, and responsibility inform key community engagement principles that are often applicable across many groups. Instructors who center Indigenous and other perspectives of groups that experience marginalization and oppression in social work curriculum are able to create community-engaged and socially just outcomes via institutional change and knowledge production efforts. Contemporary community engagement work embedded in social work values requires frameworks that are strengths based, center historically underrepresented groups working toward social justice on their own terms, and include an analysis of power, positionality, systemic causes of disparities, needed institutional changes, and critiques inclusion assumptions.

Article

International Community Practice  

Cindy Sousa and Tamarah Moss

As social work continues the ongoing work of developing frameworks for community practice, globalization and the increase in multicultural societies make urgent the need to consult international models. Community practice must center attention on building and sustaining relationships; determining who defines need and who controls the practices within the social work cycle of engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation; and maintaining community-centered practices that grapple with power dynamics in terms of status, resources, and culture. A learning approach is needed within international social work collaborations, characterized by an ethics of respect for sovereignty, cultural integrity, and the ways historical, political, cultural, and sociocultural contexts inform practice. Solidarity, authentic collaboration, and a respect for individual and collective autonomy and grassroots power are key features of community practice in international settings. The goal of the comparative perspective is for social workers to be better able to apply an international perspective to the building of theory and practice modalities within community practice.