Extensive interviews with participants of six cases in which social workers played a key role in the political process
Social Service Politics in the United States and Britain
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Willard C. Richan
With the ascent to office of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher amid general economic crisis, social programs in the United States and Britain are facing severe cutbacks. What should social workers do? In the past they have often been reluctant to take political action to defend their jobs and their clients. But in the 1960s and 1970s there were examples of effective political intervention that social work professionals can profit from and apply to the eighties.
Drawing on extensive interviews with the participants, the author describes six cases, three from each side of the Atlantic, in which social workers played a key role in the political process. Four are legislative cases:
Two other cases deal directly with the concerns of the social service workforce:
Through these cases and his analysis, the author shows precisely how committees, interest groups, experts, and legislatures acted in the contrasting political environments of the two countries. He explains what kinds of political resources social workers have, and identifies the points where social workers got involved, failed to intervene, or fought each other. It is when their professional interests and the interests of their clients lie in the same direction, the author argues, that social workers are most likely to take effective political action.
Willard C. Richan is Professor of Social Administration at Temple University.