In this introductory chapter, macro social work and community organizing as a method of practice that emphasizes both task- and process-oriented activities are examined, and different models and approaches to community social work practice are discussed. Cultural competency, cultural humility, ethics, values, and human rights associated with social work and community practice are examined. The Grand Challenges for Social Work and their implications for macro practice and community practice skills are introduced. Specific social work interpersonal skills that are commonly used in community practice are described. A framework is presented that describes how relationship building and engagement are essential for accomplishing common community-organizing tasks such as interviewing prospective community members and constituents, recruiting volunteers, creating group consensus, and conducting participatory needs assessments, planning, and evaluation. In the last section of this chapter, the organization of the book is described.
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A number of factors contribute to successful lobbying for legislation, including timing and opportunity, political influence, public or voter support, and election procedures. Social work skills are also important, including the ability build relationships with legislators and interest groups and to communicate issues in a manner that elicits popular support and puts pressure on legislators to take action. In this chapter, the terms legislative advocacy and lobbying are defined and the structure and context of legislative campaigns are examined. A description of the background research necessary to effectively lobby for legislation improvements is also provided. In addition, the skills required for participation in successful lobbying campaigns are described, including written and electronic communication, relationship building with decision makers, components of successful lobbying visits, and the provision of testimony at public hearings. The relationship between legislative and political campaigns is also examined in terms of the types of skills needed for each of these social action approaches, and barriers (such as legal regulations) that limit the engagement of social workers, community practitioners, and community organizers employed by public and nonprofit agencies in these activities are explored. In the last section of the chapter, lobbying campaign procedures used to change laws and social policies in order to achieve social justice are described.
- Go to chapter: Taking Action: Group Processes for Implementing Action Campaigns and Change Strategies
Once community members reach an agreement on a plan for an action campaign during the engagement phase of the organizing process, the next step is to implement it. Members of the community or organizing group (i.e., people taking action, action system) should have a primary role in carrying out the overall implementation strategy for the action campaign or project. In this chapter, action campaigns are defined and components of successful campaigns are identified. Defining a theory of change and depicting the theory of change in a logic model using
SMARTobjectives is discussed. Securing resources for engaging in an action campaign are explored. Restraints that limit the group’s ability to put plans into action and situational demands that require adjustments and the alteration of tactical methods are also discussed. A variety of interpersonal and communication skills needed by community practitioners and organizers to facilitate implementation of the plan are also described: group decision-making processes, handling logistics, facilitating and participating in formal meetings, public speaking, using the media, keeping notes and other documentation, and bargaining or negotiation. The process of ending campaigns is also examined. In addition, specific techniques for incorporating social justice-related principles in the process of carrying out action plans are identified.
The human rights perspective is often used to examine the process of globalization and its effects on people served by the social work professions. In this chapter, the human rights perspective, introduced in Chapter 1, provides a framework of values for an examination of community organizing and social work practice internationally. One of the rationales for international human rights standards, including the process of globalization and its negative impacts on health, well-being, wage standards, and migration is described. The responsibility of social workers, as identified in the International Federation of Social Workers Global Social Work Statement of Ethical Principles, to advocate on behalf of human rights is also examined. In addition, an overview of the practice of community organizing in the international context is provided with a focus on the practice of social planning, and community development for enhancing social and economic development in Global South is presented. The use of social action and transformative organizing approaches in the struggle for human rights worldwide is also discussed. In the last section of this chapter, the implications of a global perspective for social work and community practice are examined.
In addition to recruiting individuals for participation in community-organizing efforts, organizers also establish partnerships with other groups and organizations. As with individuals, existing networks of people and organizations are used to make contacts and identify potential supporters and resources. Organizations provide access to other potential recruits and they can also provide resources such as facilities, information, staff support, and funding. In this chapter, theories that explain why it may be advantageous for organizations to establish partnerships with one another and the challenges often encountered when building intergroup alliances are described. Several types of structures that facilitate organizational partnerships are identified: task forces, collaboratives, coalitions, interfaith alliances, national organizations with local affiliates, and social movements. In addition, specific interpersonal skills needed for partnership building are examined, including building trust, bargaining and negotiating, developing consensus, and resource and power sharing. In the last section of the chapter, specific steps used when applying the principles of mutual learning and partnership when building alliances and partnerships are described.
- Go to chapter: Facilitating Leadership Development and Group Decision-Making: Encouraging Public Participation in Planning and Engaging Constituents in the Development of Action Plans
Facilitating Leadership Development and Group Decision-Making: Encouraging Public Participation in Planning and Engaging Constituents in the Development of Action Plans
During the engagement phase of community organizing, after issue identification and assessment, action planning must take place. This work must involve constituents, and, in many cases, be led or controlled by them. The ability of everyday people to determine what happens in their communities contributes substantially to the quality of life in neighborhoods and the well-being of individuals and families. In this chapter, the theoretical underpinnings of the philosophy associated with constituent involvement are discussed. A related concept, leadership development in community organizing, is also described. This activity is based on the premise that engaged citizens should have the lead role in facilitating decision-making processes in community groups and neighborhood planning, but may need information, training, and support from community organizers to do so effectively. Consequently, one section in this chapter describes techniques used to recruit and train leaders, whereas another provides an overview of techniques commonly used to facilitate and support constituents involved in public decision-making and planning. In addition, this chapter also provides information on another important community-organizer role, assisting constituents and community leaders with the development of action plans for community campaigns and initiatives, and describes techniques for helping group members make choices about the strategies and tactics to be used in these initiatives. The use of group processes to weigh various tactical options and assess the ethical implications of these methods is also presented. In the final section of this chapter, specific practice techniques for incorporating principles of self-determination, empowerment, and cultural competency in action plans and community decision-making processes are described.
Once a community organizer learns about and gains access to a community, the organizer must begin to recruit participants for the community-organizing process. Engagement and relationship skills are essential for successful recruiting. In later stages of the organizing process, the organizer will work in partnership with participants to identify community challenges and issues, conduct assessments of community challenges and the strengths and resources possessed by community members, set goals, plan an organizing campaign, engage in action, and evaluate what has been accomplished. In the first section of this chapter, a general overview of the use of engagement and relationship-building skills for recruitment in nontraditional settings is presented. In the second section, theories related to the motivation of volunteers and community activists are identified. The third section of the chapter describes specific techniques for recruitment, including the distribution of flyers, tabling at events, phone banks, using text messaging, house meetings, street outreach, using the media, word of mouth, and utilizing social media are described. In the final section of this chapter, techniques for fostering individual commitments to social justice are described.
- Go to chapter: Engaging Participants in the Discovery, Assessment, and Documentation of Community Strengths and Challenges
Engaging Participants in the Discovery, Assessment, and Documentation of Community Strengths and Challenges
In this chapter, the purpose of community assessments is described. The process involved in conducting participatory research studies for community assessments is also explored. The rationale for focusing on community assets, strengths, and resources—rather than deficits—is discussed. Participatory action research, a specific approach to conducting research in which community members serve as research partners, is also examined. Other topics include methods for conducting community assessments, including the use of data-collection methods such as asset mapping, using photography to document community assets and issues, surveys and interviews, collecting secondary data about the community, and a process for using participatory approaches for mapping community power dynamics. The use of these methods requires collaboration on the part of organizers and community members and requires that both task-oriented and interpersonal social work skills are used to facilitate these processes. Therefore, the last section of this chapter focuses on interpersonal skills and their use in incorporating the strengths perspective into the community assessment approach.
- Go to chapter: Working with Community Groups to Critically Reflect and Engage in Dialogue on the Process and Outcomes of Action Plans
Working with Community Groups to Critically Reflect and Engage in Dialogue on the Process and Outcomes of Action Plans
In any problem-solving approach, the most important part of the process may be the feedback loop in which goal completion and the processes through which goals are achieved are examined (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2018). Consequently, the final or postengagement stage of an organizing effort involves reflection about and the evaluation of the social action campaign, community development effort, or social planning process. Both these activities should take place in the context of a group process. However, reflection requires group self-analysis about how the organizing activity took place and what it achieved. It can be conducted informally, based on participant perceptions and analysis, or formally, through the collection and analysis of quantitative data or systematically collected qualitative data from interviews, observations, or content analysis.
In this chapter, the reflection stage of the organizing process, also called praxis, is described. The various uses and applications of praxis to assess the work of staff members and volunteers and the interpersonal skills needed by the organizer to facilitate this type of group dialogue are also discussed. In addition, the use of reflective practices to monitor the social change process and modify strategies and tactics in response to situational demands is explored. The use of critical reflection and dialogue in the final stages of a campaign or other community-organizing, development, or planning activity to critically examine the process and outcomes associated with organizing efforts is also described. In the last section of this chapter, the application of principles associated with the process of praxis is examined.
- Go to chapter: Using Dialogue, Traditional and Digital Storytelling, and Structured Group-Work Techniques to Identify Community Issues
Using Dialogue, Traditional and Digital Storytelling, and Structured Group-Work Techniques to Identify Community Issues
Issue identification is typically the first stage of the engagement process in community organizing, after the initial recruitment of individual and organizational members. In this chapter, a description of how dialogue among group members is used to identify the social problems or issues to be addressed in the organizing effort is provided. A number of specific techniques used for conducting group dialogues and identifying common issues are examined, including storytelling, community forums, nominal group technique, focus group interviews, and study circles. In the last section of this chapter, specific practice skills used to engage participants in the dialogue process and to facilitate the development of a critical consciousness about the origin of social problems are discussed.