Reflections on Social Work, Social History, and Practice Experience: “It Ain’t the Same If You’re Poor”
Reflection on more than four decades of social work practice with poor people and poverty-stricken communities reveals necessary and sufficient connections between micro and macro practice, but finds gaps in social work practice knowledge in settings where corporate interests obviate democratic participation in public policy decision-making. Practice experience is found to have surprising connections to both the author’s social history and to socio-economic-political systems now stifled by privatization supported by diminishing democratic procedures at several levels of governance. Case illustrations from the author’s practice provide richly detailed accounts of lived experiences from casework and advocacy practice in settings where social welfare policies reach deeply and effectively to meet human need, while at the same time revealing grave social-economic-political injustices. Mainstream powers and governance are inoculated from social work advocacy, and community organization is impotent. On behalf of clients and communities suffering social injustices of poverty, discrimination, and erasure from communities, the author calls for social workers, social work educators and researchers to refine and renew social work knowledge (including poverty knowledge) and practice knowledge (especially advocacy) to empower work for social justice.
NARRATIVES OF PROFESSIONAL HELPING
Cleveland State University
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