Respond to at least two colleagues by identifying three reasons that macro practice should not be dominated by micro practice if social work policy is to effectively deal with the problems of oppressed and marginalized groups.
Colleague 1: Iesha
Social work has a dual focus when treating and evaluating potential clients. Their focus is divided between micro practice and macro practice. Micro practice focuses on helping individuals, small groups, or families whereas macro practice focuses on a larger population like organizations and institutions (Popple & Leighninger, 2019). Social workers have the capability to assess and treat issues on both levels. Even though these are two different populations they coincide with each other. Individuals can seek help from social workers on a micro level but after evaluation and sessions a Social worker can identify its more of a macro level issue. It is imperative for a practitioner to be knowledgeable about the different systems and how they intertwine with each other.
According to Popple & Leighninger (2019) an individual with a problem cannot wait for a social policy change to come along and solve the problem (p. 6). This statement explains why micro practice has dominated the social practice. People with problems cannot wait for a policy change because the timeline is uncertain. It is much easier to change their habits to accommodate for the institutional problem. Another reason individual practice is dominating is due to the US society. Our society is conservative and believes in individualism. We want people to take pride in their own personal success rather than giving credit to the institution for changing. This reasoning causes a lot of individuals to adapt to the way the system works rather than fight to change the system. Society has taught us that it is much more admirable to become successful after facing such adversities rather than be successful in an environment with opportunities.
Popple, P. R., & Leighninger, L. (2019). The policy-based profession: An introduction to social
welfare policy analysis for social workers. (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education
Colleague 2: Nicole
When discussing the dichotomy between micro and macro practice it’s important to note that according to Popple and Leighninger, “there is a dual focus of the social welfare institution, the social work profession also has two targets”. One “target” aspect of ths is that of social work practice with individuals, families and small groups. This is referred to “micro practice” or clinical social work. The other “target” is dealing with the aspects of social institutions that “fail to support the individuals in fulfilling role expectations” (Atherton, 1969). This second type of social work refers to the “macro practice”. Social workers understand that the importance of micro and macro practices are “complementary” to each other but tend to focus more on the individual treatment of their client.
Micro practice has dominated the social work profession for 3 main reasons. These reasons include “the individual is the most immediate target for change”, “the U.S. society is mostly conservative”, and “social work has chosen to follow a particular model of professionalism throughout most of the twentieth century” (Popple & Leighninner, 2019).
Focusing on the individual, who cannot wait for social change becomes of the utmost concern from a social workers standpoint while working with their client. In our textbook, it gives an example of a client needing food stamps to provide for her family. While this might aid their client in the short term, the amount given is low and this will not change. Therefore, the social worker needs to work alongside her client to figure out a plan to be able to “stretch” that money out for an entire month. As a conservative society, the people in the U.S. “strongly believe in individualism”. This means that people deserve credit for their own success and therefore deserve blame for their own failures. Society tends to jump to conclusions and “resent explanations of people’s personal situations that attribute anything to factors external to the individual” (Wilensky & Lebeaux, 1965). Finally, following a particular model of professionalism has defined the social work profession as “being focused on the role difficulties of individuals (casework) and to de-emphasize concern with the institutional causes of role failure (social welfare policy)” (Popple & Leighnenner, 2019).
However, to be a successful social worker, one must be sensitive and knowledgeable about the client system, the practitioner system and the policy system.
Atherton, C. (1969, May). The social assignment of social work. Social Services Review, 43, 421-429
Popple, P. R., & Leighninger, L. (2019). The policy-based profession: An introduction to social welfare policy analysis for social workers. (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Wilensky, H., & Lebeaux, C. (1965). Industrial society and social welfare (2nd ed.). New York: Russell Sage Foundation