The global development landscape has witnessed a transformation with previously held development roles and priorities changing and increasingly overlapping with others. This is compounded by the intersection of emergent challenges, such as the climate crisis and economic downturn, that create additional inequities, making the landscape increasingly complex to navigate. The social work profession has actively engaged with international entities through service provision, education, and advocacy. Social workers have historically recommended actions or changes on behalf of individuals, communities, and groups, guided by principles of social justice, dignity, and worth of each person, as well as the importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence while interfacing with development efforts in multiple other ways. Development as a topic on a global scale emerged in response to evolving conceptualizations beyond the idea of development as growth alone. For instance, originating from development economics and initially focused on modernizing new nation-states at the end of colonialism, social development aimed to achieve economic growth as the primary means of development. Practice and scholarship on development have also moved from an “international development” framework to a “global development” framing to highlight the interdependence among various societal actors rather than a linear pathway. Finally, sustainable development and its derivative, sustainability, have become central components of the current developmental discourse due to their commitment to addressing the present needs without jeopardizing future generations’ capacity to fulfill their own. To understand this complex landscape better, it is important to identify the various actors in global development and the differential goals, strengths, and constraints they bring to the table. The public sector is the traditional source of funding and action for global development projects worldwide, with governments at all levels playing a central role in resource provision, policy setting, and program implementation. The private sector, encompassing nongovernmental organizations, civil society and community-based organizations, philanthropic foundations and entities, and social entrepreneurs focused on social initiatives, has increasingly become involved in global development. Relatedly, the corporate sector, too, has emerged as a key player with a different structure and access to infrastructural and other resources. With individual strengths and constraints, these global development actors play specific roles and often collaborate to address social and developmental causes. At the same time, important complexities and shortcomings across these sectors need to be taken into cognizance to ensure continued efforts toward global development. The global development landscape offers numerous prospects for social workers to apply their knowledge and professional expertise. An understanding of this landscape equips social workers in developing a holistic approach to cross-sectoral development initiatives.
Global Development Actors (Public, Private, Corporate)
Smitha Rao, Javier Reyes-Martinez, and Carlos Andrade-Guzmán
Charles D. Cowger
This entry discusses the relationship of war and peace to social work practice. The historic and current mandate for social workers to work for peace is presented. The inevitable tie of war to everyday social work practice is described, and the relationship between social justice and peace is illustrated.
Global Health and Global Health Education
Michele Eggers-Barison and Lalit Khandare
Global health has been gradually gaining more traction in social work education. Global health addresses prevalent health vulnerabilities and collective responsibilities that transcend national borders. Global health is a multidimensional issue, which elicits an interdisciplinary multidimensional response. Various disciplines are in search of definitions, theoretical frameworks, and practice methodologies, including the development of competencies to meet global health needs. The need for social workers to critically engage in health inequities within social, cultural, economic, and political contexts globally is essential to bring effective change in the lives of those most marginalized and impacted by global health inequities. Social work is well positioned to address these needs through international social work practice and professional global standards to advocate for just policies and practice and to enhance equity and inclusiveness to promote social justice and human rights.
Jessica Euna Lee
Within its 150-year history, public health has grown from a focus on local communities to include countrywide, then international, and now global perspectives. Drawing upon the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, this article provides an overview of global public health within the broadest possible context of the world and all of its peoples. Also provided are the global burden of disease as measured in disability-adjusted life years, global health statistics, current health priorities, and recommendations for action by social workers and other health professionals.
International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW)
This entry describes the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) and explores challenges facing the organization. Founded in 1928, the IASSW is the worldwide organization representing social work education. Comprising member schools and individuals across six continents, it works, in spite of funding and voluntary leadership challenges, to create a globally inclusive organization, promote international exchange, and extend the influence of social work education at the United Nations and with other regional and international bodies.
International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW)
The International Federation of Social Workers is an international organization representing the interests of social workers around the world. This organization works in cooperation with global regional social work bodies, national organizations, and other associations to organize international events, publish policy statements, encourage cooperative initiatives, and link to other international bodies. It is active in human rights and social development and in the promotion of best practices and high professional social work standards.
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.
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.
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.
Cultural Equity and the Displacement of Othering
This article proposes social equity as a paradigm to guide social work practice and education. “Cultural equity” encompasses the multiplicity of personal, social, and institutional locations that frame identities in therapeutic practice as well as the classroom by locating these complexities within a societal matrix that shapes relationships of power, privilege, and oppression. Foregoing cultural competency for a cultural equity framework requires both analysis and interruption of the “otherizing” process inherited through multicultural discourses and the legacies of colonization. Through the use of education for critical consciousness, accountability through transparency, community-learning circles, progressive coalition-building, and usage of action strategies, transformative potential is revealed across multiple sites, both local as well as global. Multiple illustrations for the coherent application of cultural equity in social work practice and education are offered.
Asian Americans: South Asians
This entry briefly profiles the dynamic fusion, fluidity, and future of South Asians in America. While Diaspora India is emblematic of immigrant culture as a whole, South Asian duality still remains uniquely enigmatic. People from South Asia represent a confluence of diversity and complexity that calls for understanding and acceptance as a model to deconstruct a tolerant and successful pluralist society.
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.
Income distribution is defined both as the process of distributing income to individuals and families and as the statistical consequences of that distribution. After examining the measurement issues that enter into this distribution, the discussion highlights the evidence for rising inequality in the United States. It finds the top quintile, and even more starkly the top 5% and 1% of all households, to have secured most of the gains. Identifying neoliberalism, the heightened power of business, and the effects of globalization as the primary causes for this shift, income distribution is then correlated with other social welfare policy issues such as economic growth, health, and political democracy.
Affordable Housing: An International Perspective
Bonnie Young Laing
This entry explores key definitions, causes, and characteristics of slums in the global arena, along with the types of social work practice and general community development approaches being used to catalyze action to decrease the prevalence of slums. Core strategies include using planning efforts that prioritize input from people who live in slums, creating affordable housing, and otherwise transitioning urban slums into vibrant communities. Concluding thoughts and further considerations for social work practice are offered.
Social Work and the United Nations
Robin S. Mama
The profession of social work has a long and rich history of participating in and influencing the work of the United Nations and its affiliate agencies, almost since the inception of the institution. This history includes not only the work of social work or social welfare organizations as accredited nongovernmental organizations, but also of individual social workers who were trailblazers in the field of international work. The founding conference of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945 played a key role in establishing what has come to be a formal relationship between civil society and the United Nations. Article 71 of the United Nations Charter cemented this relationship by allowing the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to make consultative arrangements with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) (United Nations, 2003). The number of NGOs at the founding conference numbered 1,200; at present there are 3,900 NGOs that have consultative status with ECOSOC (Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2014). Three of the leading social work organizations that have consultative status with the United Nations are: International Association of Schools of Social Work (received consultative status in 1947), International Federation of Social Workers—(received consultative status in 1959), and International Council on Social Welfare (received consultative status in 1972).
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.
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.
Labor Unions in the United States
Paul A. Kurzman
Labor unions are major participants in the world of work in the United States and abroad. Although union membership in the United States has steadily declined since the 1950s, unions continue to provide a critical countervailing force to the largely unchecked power of employers, whose strength has increased. Hence, to be successful in meeting their goals, unions must learn to deal creatively with the realities of automation, globalization, privatization, de-unionization, and the trend toward contingent work arrangements. Nonetheless, despite the disadvantages and struggles they face, labor unions in 2020 represented almost 16 million wage and salary workers, who have families who vote; therefore, they remain a core constituency for political and corporate America and a significant part of the economic landscape in this country and abroad. Unions remain a core constituency and continue to be a significant part of the economic landscape in this country and beyond.
International Social Welfare: Overview
James Midgley, Elise Verdooner, and Murali Nair
The term international social welfare is used to refer both to social welfare policies and programs around the world and to the academic study of international social welfare activities. The entry focuses on the latter meaning and provides an overview of the evolution of scholarly inquiry into international social welfare, the key topics that have been identified and discussed by international social welfare scholars, opportunities for diverse global social welfare opportunities, the likely future development of the field and annotated web-based information about organizations active in this area.
International Social Work: Overview
Lynne M. Healy
This article presents an overview of definitions of international social work, relevant theories, the history of the field, and current practice roles. Definitional debates and critiques of international social work are discussed, as the term international social work has been a contested one. Scholars have defined international social work variously as a specialized area of practice, as the integrated global profession, as the exchange of people and ideas across borders, and as a more general perspective or worldview. The concluding section highlights some of the current challenges facing the field: developing relevant career tracks in international social work, strengthening representation of the profession at the global level, specifying the universal elements of social work, and continuing to clarify the concept of international social work.