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  • Author or Editor: Idit Weiss-Gal x
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This chapter explores the engagement of social workers in the policy process in Israel. It describes the professional discourse and socialization process regarding policy practice and then moves on to discuss the degree to which Israeli social workers actually engage in policy practice. The chapter concludes with an effort to explain the level and forms of engagement of social workers in policy practice in Israel.

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An international perspective on policy practice
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Furthering social justice and human rights is a fundamental principle underlying the social work profession. Engaging in social policy formulation processes is a major route through which social workers can realise this goal. This type of social work activity has been termed ‘policy practice’.

The aim of this book is to shed light on policy practice in social work discourse, education and practice in eight liberal democracies. This is the first effort to undertake a cross-national study of social worker engagement in social policy formulation processes. The book offers insights into questions such as ‘what is the importance attributed to social worker involvement in policy change in the social work discourse and education in different countries?’ and ‘how do social workers influence social policy in various national settings?’

These issues are relevant to social worker practitioners, students, educators and researchers, as well as to social policy scholars, who are interested in the role of professionals in social policy formulation.

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This chapter offers an introduction to the notion of policy practice in social work, a term which describes the involvement of social workers in the policy process. The chapter explores the reasons for social worker engagement in policy practice and describes existing knowledge on this. It then underscores the need for cross-national data on the role of social workers in the policy process in different countries.

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This chapter draws upon the country case studies in order to offer some conclusions on policy practice in social work in the eight countries. The findings underscore differences in the discourse and education with regard to policy practice in the various countries. While policy practice remains a marginal form of social practice, the level of engagement and its form differ across nations. The authors identify diverse routes through which social workers engage in policy practice and seek to identify the reasons for this. They then present a research agenda for studying this type of social work practice.

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This chapter provides an overview of the findings on the engagement of social work academics in the policy process in 12 countries. It describes the Policy Practice Engagement conceptual framework that served as the basis for the cross-national study. The levels, activities, stages and perceived impact of social work academics’ engagement in policy in the different countries are presented. The findings indicate that social work academics across the countries clearly regard affecting social policy as a major role. However, their level of policy engagement appears to be modest. Their policy-related activities are undertaken mainly in the public sphere, focus more on changing the discourse and are generally conducted in partnership with others in social work. The more social work academics are motivated to engage in policy and the more facilitating their organizational environment, the more likely they are to engage in policy-related activities. The ways in which social work scholars seek to exert their influence will reflect the degree to which they have access to policy formulation institutions and the ways in which policy-makers perceive them and their role.

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This study contributes to research on policy practice by enriching our knowledge about the forms that the policy engagement of social work academics takes, the dynamics of this engagement, and the factors associated with it. The study is based on structured interviews with 24 faculty members from schools of social work in Israel, all of whom are actively involved in policy formulation. The findings of the study reveal that participants are motivated by ideology and values to engage in policy and that they do so despite their perception that there is a lack of institutional support for this type of activity. The participants report that they successfully manage to combine their policy-related activities with teaching and research. The study also indicates that the social policy formulation process in Israel offers specific opportunities for the policy engagement of social work faculty.

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A cross-national perspective on the involvement of social work academics in social policy
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Based on data from 12 diverse societies, this is the first cross-national comparative study on academic engagement in social policy formulation.

The chapters present survey data on the policy involvement of social work academics in different countries and an analysis of this data by country experts. The findings relate to the levels and types of policy engagement of the social work academics, their perceptions regarding this type of activity and the factors associated with this.

This unique perspective on the academia-society nexus is essential reading for academics and students interested in the ongoing debate on the role of academia in policy, particularly those policies dealing with issues of social justice and social change.

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This chapter explores the academia-society nexus and, in particular, the theoretical and conceptual justifications for social work academics’ engagement in the policy process. It then presents the methodology of the cross-national study of social work academics’ policy involvement, with special attention to the tools employed in the survey, and the research questions that are dealt with in the country chapters and the concluding synthesis chapter.

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This chapter examines the engagement of social work academics in the policy process in Israel. It begins by presenting an overview of social policy and the welfare state in Israel and by discussing the emergence of the social work profession and the place of policy engagement in social work in that country. The development of social work education in Israel and its contemporary features are then depicted. Following these, the methodology and the findings of a study of the policy engagement of Israeli social work academics are presented. The findings relate to the levels of engagement in policy and the forms that this takes. The study also offers insights into various factors that are associated with these, such as perceptions, capabilities, institutional support and the accessibility of the policy process. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the findings and their implications.

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This chapter discusses the context in which policy engagement on the part of social workers takes place. It identifies four distinctive environments that have been identified in the literature on the policy engagement of social workers. The claim is that these environments offer a necessary context within which policy engagement emerges and that they can enhance or impede the impact of the other types of factors discussed in the PE conceptual framework. The four environments examined in detail are: the welfare regime; policies and problems; the profession; and people (service users).

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