Why do social workers care
about politics?
Obtaining power and producing
results!
Legislative and Political Activities for
Social Workers
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Examining how current legislation helps or hurts our clients, our
organization, communities, or social workers.
Examining how proposed legislation helps or hurts clients, etc.
Looking at how people or organizations will be affected by funding
increases or cutbacks.
Proposing legislation.
Lobbying for legislation proposed by others.
Lobbying for funding for social service or health programs.
Researching what politicians or interest groups support or oppose
legislation that could help or hurt our constituents; understanding
their vested interests and motivation.
Targeting politicians/decision-makers who can be influenced.
Campaigning for politicians who support the interests of clients,
social workers, etc.
Legislative Analysis looks at either the content of
legislation or legislative processes
Content Analysis
examines:
1)
2)
3)
4)
Wording and intent of current or
proposed legislation
How current legislation has
been implemented or
new legislation has
been implemented as
well as its current or
expected impact
Legal interpretations of
current legislation
Basic social values or principles
incorporated into legislation.
Process Analysis
examines:
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
Legislative procedures for
decision-making
Stage of Legislation
process for pending
legislation
Supporters and
opponents and the
degree of their political
power
Likely outcomes of process
and how it can be influenced
Effects of regulations or
existing institutions on
how decisions are made
We often use policy (content models) to analyze the content of
legislation. For example, Gilbert & Terrell (1998) use the principles of
equality, equity, and adequacy incorporated into the following
framework to analyze policies (p. 69).
Individualist
Orientation
Dimensions of
Choice
Collective
Orientation
Cost effectiveness
Allocation
Social
effectiveness
Freedom of choice
Provision
Social control
Freedom of dissent Delivery
Efficiency
Local autonomy
Centralization
Finance
Major components of process
analysis are:
 Interest groups involved in the process.
 Status and authority of decision-makers (bureaucrats
and elected politicians)
 Amount of power held by interest groups and
decision-makers.
 Vested interests and motives of decision-makers and
interest groups
 Strategies used by all participants to influence results.
 Rules of the game – implicit & explicit
 Alliances among participants
Research is commonly done by:
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Observations of process
Interviews with decision-makers
Media accounts and analysis
Industry ties and other types of affiliations of
participants
Campaign donations
Obvious inferences about vested interests based on
background information about participants and
pending legislation or policy options
Looking at voting patterns and election turnout; timing of
elections; composition of electorate.
Example of Application of Neo-elitist Model:
Voting in U.S.
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Not everyone is registered to vote. (only about 50% are registered)
Not every registered voter actually votes. (only about 50% of registered
vote)
People may need to travel to register or change address & name. (excludes
poor and those with disabilities)
National law now only requires for first time voters.
Some states exclude former felons from voting (excludes 13% of all African
American men)
Polling places are not accessible to people with disabilities.
Older, white citizens are more likely to vote than young people, African
Americans, and Latinos
Latinos and other new immigrants are excluded from voting because they
are not citizens.
Ballot language excludes some voters. Data used to determine whether
ballots should be printed in languages other than English are
updated every 10 years.
Translations are required when more than 5% or 10,000 voters speak
English as a second language.
Election campaigns attempt to:
 Identify likely new voters.
 Identify who is already likely to
vote for the candidate.
 Target appeals to specific ethnic
groups.
 Initiate voter registration and get out
the vote efforts.
Social workers can:
 Volunteer on election campaigns
 Run for office
 Help people register to vote (Motor Voter legislation
requires some social service organizations to do this)
 Help inform people about candidates and about
individual voting rights.
 Be a poll watcher or election judge.
 Monitor impact of the Help American Vote Act.
Recent issues
Translation
Identification
Ballot layout
Electronic voting machines and paper trails.
Students voting in college towns.
Charges of vote fraud (mostly applied in communities
of color)
 Law enforcement presence in polling places
 Concern about Federal requirements that states
maintain a centralized voting list
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Why do social workers care about politics?