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Article

Historiography  

Leslie Leighninger

This entry discusses some topics in social work and social welfare history. It covers different approaches to that history, such as an emphasis on social control functions of social welfare; a stress on the “ordinary people” involved in historical events; or particular attention to the stories of women, people of color, and other groups who have often been excluded from formal sources of power. It notes the importance of using original sources in writing history, and explains the various steps involved in researching and interpreting these sources.

Article

Culturally Competent Practice  

Doman Lum

This article defines cultural competence and culturally competent practice and focuses on cultural awareness, knowledge acquisition, and skill development as key components. It traces the historical development of cultural competence in the disciplines of psychology and social work, pointing out how cultural competence has become a professional standard. Cultural competence has also been recognized on the federal and state health and human services levels. Cultural competence is viewed on the practitioner, agency, and community levels as well as the micro, mezzo, and macro dimensions. Among the implications for practice are the issues of cultural competence and cultural competencies, the ethics of cultural competence, social context, and biculturation and multiculturalization. Cultural competence research is briefly surveyed, as is the relationship between cultural competence and critical race theory.

Article

Social Capital  

Katrina Balovlenkov

Social capital is a social science concept used within macro social work practice to describe the role of human relationships, connectivity, and networks in the planned change process. Social capital has been used to examine how marginalized populations and resource-limited communities mobilize and act to improve social conditions relying on human relationships, connectivity, and networks. Social capital, particularly as it relates to social support and collective efficacy, is linked to preventing and treating disease and addressing socioeconomic conditions that create community-level barriers to well-being. Cultivating social capital has influenced social movements in the United States to produce positive change, such as efforts to create green spaces, challenge discriminatory laws, expand access to healthy food in food deserts, preserve native lands, and enact healthcare reforms. While the definition and measurement of social capital has evolved over the years, in the broadest sense it informs macro social work by improving our understanding of how collective advocacy built on interconnectedness, reciprocity, and trust in both the quality and quantity of social relationships results in real change.