Social workers affecting social policy. An International perspective
At the Joint World Conference on Social Work and Social Development in Hong Kong in 2010 a set of values was formulated that defined the mission of social work and the development of social policy. It is assumed that these key values, and in particular the principles of social justice and empowerment, are shared by social work and social policy practitioners, educators and experts. In the history of the profession there are many examples in which social workers sought, and successfully achieved, politically significant changes in the social order. However, there were also periods of a decline in activism and a decrease in the role of structural or political social work. This chapter presents the results of a study of the participation of Russian social workers in processes of structural changes. Interviews with social workers were conducted in several Russian regions. Case studies present mechanisms of changes evoked through counter-actions and compromises, individual activity or collective action, consolidation with social movements and other agents, through the implementation of new methods and forms of casework in the system of social services, or through the lobbying of legislative changes and the practice of institutionalised forms of conflict resolution in courts. Strategies for promoting social change, agents of change and institutional barriers are discussed in the theoretical context of professionalism as a value system and ideology.