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  • Author or Editor: Idit Weiss-Gal x
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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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A Framework for Understanding Policy Engagement
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Rather than being seen simply as social policy implementors, in recent decades there has been increasing recognition of social workers as professionals with unique knowledge and insights to contribute to policy formulation and social justice.

This book offers a path-breaking, evidence-based theoretical framework for understanding why social workers engage in policy, both as professionals and citizens, and the impact of their actions. Drawing on concepts from social work and the political, sociological and policy sciences, the authors set out the implications of this framework for research, education and practice.

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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 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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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 infrastructure for understanding the social work–social policy interface and, in doing so, sets the stage for the following chapters, which explore components of the conceptual framework. It discusses the types of social policies that social workers are likely to interact with, the various policy arenas in which social policy is made and the modes of social policy relevant to the policy-related activities of social workers: displacement, layering and conversion. A final focus of the chapter is on the various policy routes that social workers can take to affect policies, two of which social workers engage in as citizens (voluntary political participation and elected offices) and four where they act in a professional capacity (street-level policy involvement; academic policy practice; policy practice; and policy practice through professional organisations). We then discuss the differences between the routes and the implications of these.

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This chapter provides an initial overview of the social work–social policy nexus and the past tendency to view social workers primarily as the implementors of social policies. It then offers a detailed description of more contemporary efforts to explore the policy engagement of social workers by reviewing major trends in research on this subject. The chapter identifies the cutting edge in this literature and underscores the potential contribution of the book to this growing field of research. It concludes with an initial presentation of the policy engagement conceptual framework, which seeks to explain social workers’ engagement in policy and the form that this takes.

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Research on social workers’ policy engagement shows that one of the most important factors linked to their policy role is the support that they get from their workplace. Thus, social workers’ engagement in policy will be facilitated if the dominant values and modes of practice in their immediate work environment, that is, ‘the organizational culture’, allow or encourage them to engage in this type of practice and provide them with the resources, facilities and support necessary to do so. Here, we draw on theoretical knowledge on organisations and on the findings of studies on the facilitating role of organisations in the policy engagement of social workers in order to identify the conditions under which social workers in organisations engage in policymaking and the factors that impact the form that this will take. The chapter explores these themes with regard to social workers in advocacy organisations, service providers and governmental services, particularly those on the local level.

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As individuals with agency in their role as either professionals or private citizens, the decision by social workers to engage in policy will inevitably be influenced by their motivation to do so. This understanding requires us to explore the factors that are associated with the motivation of individual social workers in different positions to engage in policy-related activities. The chapter looks at various facets of the motivation of social workers to engage in policy. These include the civic voluntarism model, motivation theory, personality traits, institutional motivation and gender and ethnicity.

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