The Transition to Political Activity
In Chapter 1 it was argued that the social worker who approaches human problems from a truly holistic perspective will eventually become aware of the need for policy reform. This transition from lower system level activity to political insight can take the accumulated experience of many unsuccessful or inadequately-resolved case plans. As case-workers endeavour to resolve problems on a case-by-case basis, they will come to recognise certain patterns or regularities in their clients’ circumstances that act to perpetuate their problems: for example, child protection workers may recognise a close association between child abuse, unemployment and social isolation. Similarly, psychiatric social workers are likely to discover that their clients’ inability to cope in the community is related to a lack of opportunity and inadequate community-based services. When insights such as these have been achieved, the case-worker enters the ‘transition phase’ of our model, for it is at this point that the worker begins to move towards interventions which involve political activity. Intervention now takes two vitally important directions. First, individual clients must be brought together to break down the isolation which ultimately contributes to their powerlessness; the worker will try to instil a sense of solidarity in the group and encourage group reflection on the problems being experienced by group members. Second, work must begin on accumulating evidence capable of attracting public sympathy and pressuring social policy-makers during the community organisation phase that will follow.
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