Week 1: Social Work in the Policy Arena
Policies designed to enhance peoples’ welfare or well-being are known as social policies. These policies are concerned with many aspects of social welfare, including health, housing, education, income, and nutrition, to name but a few. Social policies have also been formulated to meet the needs of groups of people such as needy children, people with disabilities, low-income families, and elderly people.
—Midgley & Livermore, 2008, pp. x–xi
From Midgley’s synopsis on social policy, it is clear that as a professional social worker and an advocate of social change, you will be working closely with populations and groups of people that will need your talent and dedication to affect a positive change in the quality of life for these people. Social Policy: Advocacy and Analysis will prepare you for the role of social worker in the policy arena.
In Week 1, you examine ethical reasons and obligations for engaging in social work policy practice, and you explore historical influences on social action in contemporary practice. You also introduce yourself to your colleagues with an introductory video that you will upload in this first week.
Analyze ethical reasons social workers engage in policy practice
Analyze historical influences on social action in current practice
SOCW 6361 Webliography
These websites will be required throughout the semester. Become familiar with these websites, especially when doing research for your assignments.
Jansson, B. S. (2018). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social justice. (8th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning Series.
Chapter 1, “Joining a Tradition of Social Reform” (pp. 3–31)
Community Toolbox. (2016). Chapter 5 Section 1: Strategies for community change and improvement: An overview. Retrieved from http://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/assessment/promotion-strategies/overview/main
Hill, K. M., Ferguson, S. M., & Erickson, C. (2010). Sustaining and strengthening a macro identity: The association of macro practice social work. Journal of Community Practice, 18(4), 513–527
Jacobson, W. B. (2001). Beyond therapy: Bringing social work back to human services reform. Social Work, 46(1), 51–61
TEDx Talks. (2015, July 15). Inspiring change through community organizing: Dara Frimmer [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DtILpmsCcA&t=8s
MSW home page
Use this link to access the MSW home page, which provides resources for your social work program.
Discussion 1: Video Introduction
A large part of social work involves building relationships. To be effective, you must build relationships with clients, colleagues, and community and organizational representatives. Being able to share appropriate amounts of personal information is the first step in building those relationships as you seek to recognize common goals with these individuals. Feeling comfortable with sharing an appropriate amount of personal information requires practice and is an ongoing process as you encounter new people. What would you like others to know about you as an individual who is a social worker? How would you like others to perceive you? The relationships you build rely on those perceptions as much as they rely on what you say. There is no better time than now to plan or revisit your approach to building these relationships.
For this ungraded, but required, Discussion, record a 2-3 minute video introducing yourself to your colleagues. Your video should include and address these items:
Introduce yourself (your name, your geographic location, and an interesting, fun fact about yourself related to hobbies, personal interests or experiences)
What does being an advocate mean to you?
Describe a policy that has impacted your life
Discussion 2: Historical Divides and Ethical ObligatiWork
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) specifies the ethics and values of the profession in their Code of Ethics. Section 6.04 of the Code of Ethics (1999) states:
Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully. Social workers should be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and promote social justice.(Preamble, p. 8)
With the requirement of social and political action among social workers, there is little political activity among clinical social workers. Why? What barriers exist that prevent social workers from fulfilling this ethical obligation?
What does it mean to be a macro social worker? A micro social worker? Do these differentiations have any real meaning? If not, why is this language used when referring to the social work profession?
In this Discussion, you will look at the obligation of social workers to engage in political action in their practice and discuss why there appear to be different perceptions of the responsibility for political action among social work professionals.
By Day 4
Post an analysis of historical divides (such as the schism between Jane Addams and Mary Richmond) and historical influences on current social work practice with respect to policy advocacy and action. Do such schisms exist in contemporary social work? If you think these divides exist, how do they prevent social workers from fulfilling their ethical obligation(s)? Are they important differentiations?
By Day 6
Respond to a colleague with a suggestion about how to address these schisms, both historical situations and current but yet unidentified ones. Does social action need to be separate from social work practice?