Annotated bibliography for social work

Jacobson, W.B. (2001). Beyond therapy: bringing social work back to human services reform. Social Work, 46(1), 51-61.

Social work has evolved gradually over the recent decades towards a clinically oriented practice from its traditional approach of seeking social justice for groups such as the oppressed, poor and the vulnerable in the community. Jacobson (2001) argues that such transformation has prevented the discipline from achieving its mission of social action and social justice; rather, pursuing a different goal of protecting roles for the social worker. Accordingly, the subject of the paper is to present a case for the need of social work to reorient itself to its traditional mission of establishing a “helping or service relationship” with its participants (p. 52).

To present the case for such reorientation, Jacobson references various personal communications with social work educators, practitioners and students in the social work discipline, as well as literature in support of the arguments advanced. From such sources, the article identifies the factors that have led to the current, therapeutic-oriented practice of social work and its limitations. Additionally, the paper identifies approaches for reorienting social work towards a helping relationship, presenting case studies of practices that have attempted such a refocused approach, and the driving and restraining forces that impact on effective reorientation of the practice.

With the succinct discussion of inefficiencies in current approach to social work, and presentation of a framework, examples and forces that may promote or hinder reorientation approaches,  the article presents critical information on which the future of social work programs and training can be structured. The reliability of the article is however affected by the fact that most of the references used to support practices towards reorientation are based on personal communications rather than controlled experimental studies. Despite this limitation, the article bears credibility from its publication in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal (Social Work, indicates dates of revision) and the fact that the author is practitioner in the field of social work.

Morris, P. M. (2002). The capabilities perspective: a framework for social justice. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Human Services, 83(4), 365-373.

Although social justice is recognized as a core mission of social work, the interpretation of what social justice is, has been varied. Identifying this varied perspectives on the concept of social justice, Morris (2002) sets out to present an alternative framework to the one provided John Rawl in 1971; a theoretical framework that has been at the basis of the social work practice.

To present the new framework, one based on capabilities, the article first lays the background with the challenge of balancing the contrasting needs of the community and the individual in social work practices. The article, subsequently, highlights the application of social justice framework advanced by Rawl’s in social work, with a brief note on the theory of utilitarianism that preceded Rawl’s theory. With this analysis, the paper thus lays the foundation to introduce the alternative approach to social justice it seeks to highlight, in regard to social work profession. Through the review of literature, the paper argues that in addition to expounding on Rawl’s distributive justice perspective by including dimensions of well-being, human dignity and self-determination in its framework, the capabilities perspective embodies the missions of enhancing well-being and that of meeting basic needs; aspects not addressed in the Rawl framework. Out of its broad conceptualization, the article argues that the capabilities perspective results in far more expounded outcomes than those brought about by a social work practice based on the Rawl’s advancement of social justice.

The paper’s contribution to social work is two folds. Firstly, it offers a basis from which further research on the application of the proposed model on social work may proceed. Secondly, if the success of the model is verified, the paper would have presented a framework that betters social work practice thus its outcomes. Having based the framework on a succinct review of supporting literature, the paper establishes its reliability for advancing social work profession. Additionally, the publication of the paper in a peer-reviewed journal (Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Human Service) and the fact that the author was a doctoral candidate at the time of publication, thus capable of handling the subject, enhances the credibility of the paper.

Polack, R. J. (2004). Social justice and the global economy: new challenges for social work in the 21st century. Social Work, 49(2), 281-290.

With increasing effect of globalization forces on many aspects of human life, Polack (2004) sets out to outline the “social justice issues related to the debt crisis of the global south and sweat shops” (p. 281). On such a mission, the article first introduces the increasing need of social work profession to take a more global approach to redress inequalities both at the domestic and global levels.

To buttress the importance of taking a global approach to inform social work practices, the article indentifies various factors worth of note. Firstly, Polack (2004) attributes the antecedents of current global economy to colonialism, then, through a succinct review of global south debt crisis and sweatshops, presents implications of the current situation to domestic and global social work issues. Through this well-outlined article, the author goes on to present approaches that would better social work assume a global role such as those that require altering the current curriculum.

This paper is critical in advancing social work beyond the precincts of domestic focus into a global perspective. Global perspectives advanced in the article are not only relevant to the foreign countries but also domestic status, with globalization forces making effects of policies in one country easily transferable to other countries. Such arguments are supported by literature, which the paper appropriately references, thus enhancing its reliability. Additionally, by its publication in a peer-reviewed journal, which addresses various aspects of social work, the article bears a higher level of credibility for the arguments it advances. Further, the author being an assistant professor in the field of social work, has the relevant academic qualifications to tackle aspects the article was intended to address.

Thompson, N (2002). Social movements, social justice and social work. British Journal of Social Work, 32(6), 711-722.

The antecedent of anti-discriminatory practice may never have been wholly in social work, but, partially, from external factors such as pressure from social movements. Taking such a perspective, Thompson (2002) “explores how the development of new social movements played a part in laying …foundations” that led to enhanced attention to achieving social justice as a mission for the social work profession (p. 711).

To achieve this purpose, the article highlights three core issues – how social movements are related to social justice, how social movements are related to social work, and whether social work may be perceived as a type of social movement. With relations to social justice, the article presents examples of social movements that have led to reduced discrimination of particular sections of society, but, additionally, notes of those whose contribution has not been towards achieving social justice. Concerning their relation to social work, the article presents the influence that social movements have had of changing the focus of social work towards a society with reduced discrimination, leading to such approaches as encouraging “user participation” in the social work profession. As the article argues, the basing of social work on a statutory framework, limits the flexibility of social work, thus depriving it the status of a social movement.

Through this article, the factors that have contributed and hold more impact on the evolution of social work, are disseminated. In such a way, the article highlights the practices from which social work could find important information to advance its social justice mission. With appropriate support from cited sources, the paper presents a reliable source for basing approaches that enhance social work practices. Additionally, the paper is published in a peer-reviewed journal and the author is a practitioner and educator in the social work field; factors that add to the articles’ credibility.

Weil, M. O. (1996). Community building: building community practice. Social Work, 41(5), 481-499.

Weil (1996) article on “Community building: building community practice” was inspired by two observed trends: (i) the increasing reduction of federal budget for social services and, (ii) the increasing push for empowerment-aimed, community-based social transformation at the grassroots levels. Accordingly, identifying the challenge for social work discipline to respond to this situation, the purpose of the article is to delineate how social work profession can proactively address the challenge by “strengthen[ing] families and communities through community practice at grassroots and inter-organizational levels” (p. 482).

According to this purpose, Weil (1996) first presents a historical background to the changing nature of challenges facing social work with the reduced federal involvement and the implications for resultant increased responsibility for state governments, profit and non-profit non-governmental institutions involved in social work. The paper then connects social work to community practice, providing a succinct delineation of what community practice entails, with an identification of community-building methods highlighted in research and a case example of such community building. Additionally, the paper argues out three directions – “empowerment practice, community practice and social development practice” – to which social work needs to grow with the changing responsibility of stakeholders necessary to implement effective social work programs (pp. 489-494). Finally, the article presents the policy directions that need to be considered, further research required to support such policy directions and the implication of these changes to social work education.

Through this paper, the social work field is provided with a reference to advice on needed transformation in its programs and education to achieve its mission of community building. With adequate references to support its arguments, the paper presents a reliable source, to which social work professions need to refer, to provide a more current perspective on issues raised. Additionally, with its publishing in a peer-reviewed journal, and the author being an advanced educator in social work, the paper’s credibility is ensured, thus a need for practitioners, educators and social work students to refer to its advancements.

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