18. Social Workers and Social Policy: New Challenges and a Changing Relationship

John Gal, Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Idit Weiss-Gal, Shapell School of Social Work, Tel Aviv University, Israel, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Social policy and social work have a close, diverse, and ever-changing relationship.  As employees of welfare states and as the professionals often charged with implementing social policies, social workers are very clearly affected by changes that occur within welfare states and the various institutions that comprise them.  At the same time, promoting social justice and the furthering of the wellbeing of clients are universally regarded as fundamental professional goals by social workers.  As a result, historically social workers have been engaged in efforts to impact the policy process in order to advocate for policies that further social justice and to oppose policies that are perceived as detrimental to their clients.

The ongoing economic crisis in many welfare states and changes in welfare governance have created challenges for deprived social groups and the social workers who serve them.   Social workers are required to implement policies that contradict their professional values and to work with clients frustrated by the economic and political climate in which they live. 

At the same time, the new forms of governance have also made the social policy formulation process more accessible to social workers while the growing managerial role of social workers in social services has enhanced their impact on social policy formulation.  Similarly the growing place of policy practice, the social work practice focused on policy change, in social work education and the professional discourse has led to increased readiness on the part of social workers to engage policy makers.

There is a growing body of research literature on the policy practice activities of social workers and the impact of social policy change upon members of this profession.  The goal of the stream is to serve as a platform for the discussion of cutting edge research on policy practice and the evolving relationship between social work and social policy.

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