Skills/knowledge in Social Work for Community Development

April 16th,, 2014
• Students will be able to understand critically
Power and its exercise in Social Work Practice.
• Power is a fundamental entity and also
universal phenomena
• Our society is itself built of power relations
from centuries
– Such as father, teacher, Military etc
Power is the ability to control and influence people
Power is the capacity to participate effectively in a
decision making process.
Max Weber- “ The ability to control the behaviour
of others even in the absence of their consent”.
• Demerath & Marwell- “ Power is gambling because
there is always risk that people in power will betray
the common trust.”
• Oxford Dictionary (2005)• “The ability or capacity to do something,
• The capacity or ability to act in a particular way to
direct or influence the behaviour of others or the
course or events; or physical strengths or force exerted
by someone”
• Unjust and evil- power
• Legitimate Power- positional power( relative positions
and responsibilities of duties of the holder of
individuals within organizations such as uniforms,( job
• Referent Power -power of ability to influence people
based on the charisma and interpersonal skills (
• Expert Power- an individual power derived from skills
and expertise
• Reward Power: give somebody that they like
• Coercive Power- punishment
• Information Power- like expertise power but not
necessarity they have knowledge
Power in Social Work Practice
• Power is a complex and challenging concept
• Social workers feel uncomfortable with the
ambiguity of their position and responsibilities.
• “ Feel powerless” because of rigid legal
requirements and state bureaucracies ( in some
cases we need to take authority, to be directive
and to exercise of coercion.
• It is challenge for social workers to
establish/promote power dynamics
• Power has a crucial impact on the
relationship in between social workers and
service users.
• Authority, legitimacy and professional and
personal credibility are significant factors in
the exercise of power in social work practice
• Social workers must be willing to take a
proactive approach to considering, rethinking
and changing power relationships in the
interest of service users
Factors in exercising
power/sources of Power
• Wealth, Status, Prestige, numbers, efficiency, influence,
eminence, competence, expertise, dominance, force,
coercive, authority, knowledge, skills and competence etc.
• Primary and Secondary Sources in social work
1. Rely on power of expertise
2. Referent power and persuasion –interpersonal skills
(trust, rapport building and empathy)
3. Legitimate Power: dominant cultural values and
authoritative norms
Resources and services controlled by organizations
Social work Theories in changing
power Realtionship
Conflict Theory
Anti-oppressive Theory
Power Dependency Theory
Germain and Gitterman “the client and social
workers relationship is transactional…client
and social workers role shift from those of
subordinate reciepient and superordinate
expert…to roles permitting greater mutuality
and reciprocity in interaction”
Why do we need to think about Power
in Social Work Practice