Macro Practice in Social Work for the 21st Century
eBook - ePub

Macro Practice in Social Work for the 21st Century

Bridging the Macro-Micro Divide

Steve Burghardt

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  1. 512 Seiten
  2. English
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eBook - ePub

Macro Practice in Social Work for the 21st Century

Bridging the Macro-Micro Divide

Steve Burghardt

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Über dieses Buch

This project is a skills-based macro practice text for courses in social work community practice. The author has new interviews to draw on but will retain several of the original for variety, and he will walk the student through the career path of a macro practice practitioner. This book is different from other macro practice texts in that it is focused on building skills for effective practice through out the traditional macro social work career path. A key part of determining one?s path and place in practice is to reflect on their own personal values and mission and keep those values alive throughout their career. This book aims to do so by containing reflective exercises and activities through out.

Some unique features of this text include:

- Differs from main competing texts in its effort to build skills and focus on reflection, growth and theory to practice application activities

- Allows students to get a concrete sense of what it means to be in macro practice by providing interviews of organizers, program developers, and administrative executives.

- Case studies in every chapter allow students to apply key concepts to actual cases in practice

- Author to provide DVD of interviews with community organizers and managers for student website

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Chapter 1 Starting before the Beginning: Historical Origins, Strategic Assumptions, and Professional Development: The Creation of a Textbook

As with any other body of work, a textbook does not emerge whole cloth—or virtual text—from spontaneous combustion. To be read correctly, somewhere in its “pre-engagement phase,” the book's author must spell out the underlying influences that animate the choices made, whether they be case studies from students, selected quotations from various authors, or the author's own predispositions based on lived experience—in this case as a grassroots organizer, an academic, a community-based consultant, and a human being. Doing so early on, before beginning the heavy slog of reading a textbook (or working on a political campaign or accepting a job inside an agency), expands the reader's choices. By the end of this chapter, you'll know whether you want to begin. If past history is a guide, a few will wish to read no more. Some—it is hoped more than a few—will be inspired. May sufficient numbers learn enough throughout that the following pages make a difference in your work.

Update to the Second Edition: The Worst of Times, The Best of Times —or “Interesting Times”?

The origins of this book's first edition were threefold. For the second edition, as the reader will see toward the end of this introduction, there is now, 4 years later, a resilient albeit humbling fourth origin. The first edition was written at a time when the rarified air of “hope and change” was being inhaled by progressives everywhere. Four years later, the air seems less rarified and far more pungent: the continuing sway of the Tea Party in political discourse; the Republican Congressional sweep in 2010; the bailout of Wall Street that seems to have left Main Street far behind; and a frighteningly high unemployment rate that refuses to fall. But wait—there is more: in 2010 and 2011, the Arab Spring, dictators toppling like dominoes; universal health care, no matter its flaws, added to the welfare state after 50 years of effort; Occupy Wall Street popping up in 800 American cities, embraced by the suddenly class-conscious 99%; gay marriage the law of the land in 11 states and an American president in support of it; and then, in November of 2012, the reelection of Barack Obama, upending Republican certainties and becoming the only president besides Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) to be reelected with unemployment rates above 8%. There is so much to be scared of and disappointed about 
 so much to be excited by and worthy of fighting for. This second edition begins during a time when core beliefs, starkly contrasted in bright reds and blues, are being challenged across America.
The hope here is that this edition makes a small contribution to meeting some of those challenges for those of us who toil in the forgotten margins of the 2012 campaigns—where poverty is multigenerational and schools are without heat before hurricanes and floods, where children live at risk and without safety and elders weep silently in their isolated rooms. We in human services must be rigorous and steely eyed in our strategic assessments as we chart the direction of our profession over the coming years: The people with whom we work and the issues to which we dedicate our lives were absent from the 2012 electoral discourse. Such absence—and with it, a corresponding decrease in influence—can be corrected only through diligent, strategic leveraging of our ideas and issues in coalitions and campaigns that make these concerns impossible to ignore.
As part of that strategic leveraging, this work also more openly seeks to bridge some of the divides that exist in social work—beginning by showing ways to lessen the divisions between “micro” and “macro” practice that haunt our field. There is no way to increase funding for, say, domestic violence or homeless shelters or mental health budgets if, within the profession, organizers and managers remain distant from clinicians and group-work practitioners. Likewise, clinical social workers who use their numerical supremacy as justification for marginalizing organizers and administrators from professional discourse and teaching do so at their own peril, as such division gives added political strength to those who would cut social services beyond the bone and into its heart. Trivializing and diminishing natural allies who can gain from each other while more powerful economic and political forces look to end entitlements is a fools' game none of us can win. This edition attempts to show ways to connect our different approaches to social work practice as complementary, not conflicting, so that our unity is strengthened in ways that provide resilience to our work at a time when we can expect to be tested again and again by more conservative forces.
In keeping with every social work program's understandable accreditation responsibilities, each chapter also integrates with the chapter's skill set the Council on Social Work Education's core competencies based on Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards, thus easing the difficulties in demonstrating how core curriculum with a macro focus meets the profession's standards. This has been done without diminishing the emphasis on either Paulo Freire's attention to “dialogue” or the importance of Elaine Pinderhughes's analysis of power and privilege as it appears in frontline practice. In a world steeped in conflict, where some perceive compromise as a defeat, finding common ground within the profession in the pursuit of social justice is perhaps itself a political act—and a personally fulfilling one, too.

Continuing Origins I: The Age of Reagan

A new set of influences unique to this edition will be presented as the fourth origin later in this introduction, but I begin with the original three, as they still influence the content of this text. The first origin to this work began a while back, in 1982, a time when the ascent of Ronald Reagan was complete and the unfolding of the conservative paradigm was beginning to be felt throughout America. I wrote a book titled The Other Side of Organizing in part because of the devastating impact Reagan's election had on progressive organizing at that time. In the late 1970s, progressive community activists, whether rank-and-file trade unionists, feminists, or neighborhood organizers fighting the latest round of “city crisis” budget cuts, were united by the common assumption that our nation was about to swing back to a far more progressive phase. After all, the conditions commonly assumed to augur a progressive upswing were present everywhere: an economy that placed working people in peril, with both double-digit inflation and skyrocketing unemployment rates; a weakened system of authority caused by Watergate; and unending rounds of “city crisis” cuts that devastated services and increased felt needs throughout the poorest communities. So many of us were so sure that this mix of diminished political authority, increasing economic need, and objectively difficult living conditions could lead in only one direction: to a progressive realignment of workers, people of color, women, and other disenfranchised folk who, in combination, would have the power to change our nation's course as had occurred in the 1930s and 1960s.
It didn't exactly work out that way. Culminating in the personal and political devastation that so many progressive people experienced with the 2004 reelection of George W. Bush to a second term as president of the United States, early 21st century community practitioners reeled with the jarring awareness that more than 25 years had elapsed since liberal thought and liberal action had been off the defensive. Not that there were no pivotal worldwide achievements during that time: The Berlin Wall fell, along with the Soviet bureaucracy; Nelson Mandela was released from prison, and apartheid was vanquished; the Chiapas of Mexico gave a heroic face (or at least a mask) to the struggles of indigenous Americans; through microeconomic loans, Third World women courageously joined economic and social development within their communities; AIDS was seen as simply a virulent disease of marginal people until gay activists forced the world to think and act otherwise; and wired young activists showed the rest of us how to use the Internet to organize international movements, first against Nike's sweatshops, later against the World Trade Organization.
Likewise, while some of the motivation for The Other Side also emanated from what I described as “the sad, quiet truth” that too many organizers took too little joy from what we did and the way we did it, that is happily no longer true. Today, young activists aren't afraid to have fun. Community practitioners have learned from Abbie Hoffman that a hearty laugh and a little color in the middle of your protest march can be a good thing. Likewise, gay activists and third-wave feminists have led the way in helping the rest of us openly embrace sexuality, freedom of expression, and a touch of pink as we go about the otherwise mundane tasks of daily political struggle. As seen in the early phases of Occupy Wall Street in 2011, it's nice to see that people who like to boogie can want to change the world, too. (Emma Goldman, you'd be proud!) Finally, Native American, African American, Asian American, and Latino activists have not shied away from embracing the spiritual traditions of their ancestors as integral to our work, helping the rest of us learn that progressive reform devoid of spiritual meaning can be very hollow indeed.
Nevertheless, such successes could not disguise that there was another, often more successful kind of organizing going on as well, from the Reagan Era forward: the rise of Islamist fundamentalism and its fanatical opposition to modernism, signified most powerfully through its subjugation of women; the movement of conservative American Christianity from the religious to the political sphere, felt in treatment of textbooks on evolution, repeal of sex education in schools, the attack on women's reproductive rights, and a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage; the use of terrorism as a powerful tool against modern military and economic might, culminating (but hardly ending) on a beautiful September day over America's East Coast; and the ragged separation of the United States into the warring colors of red and blue. And through it all, an entrenched belief was seeping throughout our nation's communities and neighborhoods: that personal and communal happiness could occur only through the accumulation of economic wealth and individual acquisition (whether of status, power, or things), all of it preferably privatized. Entwined within that belief was another assumption that further marginalized progressives from mainstream America: To think otherwise was at best a waste of time and more likely a sign of one's lesser capacity to compete in the global market. Updating Social Darwinism with a late-20th-century gloss of celebrity, the smartest folks, knowing all this already, worked only to free up the market further to grow, not regulate its excesses (Krugman, 2009). The rest of us, as Tea Party activists continue to preach, were simply to get out of the way.

Origins II: Students of Community Practice Keep on Keepin' on

During those long years, I was fortunate enough to have classroom after classroom of community organizing students and social administration majors—macro practitioners—who never gave up their beliefs opposing both the inevitable triumph of conservative thought and the assumed incapacity of marginalized and oppressed people to rise above their conditions to make a better world. Whether educating me in the early '90s on the indigenous struggles emerging in South America or 15 years later offering stories of heartbreak and inspiration about the homeless LGBTQ kids of color fighting for services in Greenwich Village, these students showed me that social change and social justice still mattered and that there were ways one could go about achieving nothing less, even in conservative times.
I was honored to find that the core material of The Other Side of Organizing also mattered to them. They continued to find value in the still-all-too-overlooked role of the community practitioner and the ways one goes about doing his or her actual work as fundamental strategic imperatives in working effectively with the disenfranchised and the oppressed. Instead of deep opposition, they could see that the “micro” attention to the personal and the “macro” awareness of the sociopolitical in combination made them better practitioners.
Having now read and reread the works of Freire over the past three decades and borne witness to countless organizing efforts as well, I am more convinced than ever that the ways we work with the oppressed and disenfranchised either socially reproduce the same marginality they have all too often experienced or liberate us all to live more fully in the world than we had before. This book will seek to foster this latter kind of transformation in the macro practice that community organizers and administrators undertake—and in the micro practice of clinical social workers, too.
Creating such transformative change won't be easy. As the untiring efforts of students an...