Social work practice with local communities in developing countries: Imperatives for political engagement

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Abstract

The article discusses some features of social work, broad community practice trends, and imperatives for political engagementin local communities in developing countries. Drawing on secondary data and the author's observations and research oncommunity development in developing countries, it addresses an important question: Do social workers practice in localcommunities generally, and particularly through political engagement? The analysis shows broad community practice trendsin developing countries and argues that social workers and their profession are almost absent in local communities, and whenthey are so engaged, most of them do not engage politically. In view of local communities' contexts and people's deprivedconditions, the imperatives for social workers to engage politically in community practice are discussed. These are asfollows: adhering to values/principles-based social work practice with communities, making an entry and gaining acceptance,awareness-raising and capacity building, challenging exploitative and oppressive community power structures, and ensuringsustainable community development. In conclusion, it is argued that to effectively address these imperatives, social work mayneed to alter its non-political and non-religious neutral stand, where appropriate. In many situations, social workers need tofocus on the profession's fundamental values and principles and actively engage with local politics and power structures so asto improve the living conditions of people and local communities in developing countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalSage Open
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

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social work
developing country
community
social worker
profession
Local Communities
Social Work
Developing Countries
local politics
Social Workers
living conditions
community development
research and development
Values
acceptance
trend

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title = "Social work practice with local communities in developing countries: Imperatives for political engagement",
abstract = "The article discusses some features of social work, broad community practice trends, and imperatives for political engagementin local communities in developing countries. Drawing on secondary data and the author's observations and research oncommunity development in developing countries, it addresses an important question: Do social workers practice in localcommunities generally, and particularly through political engagement? The analysis shows broad community practice trendsin developing countries and argues that social workers and their profession are almost absent in local communities, and whenthey are so engaged, most of them do not engage politically. In view of local communities' contexts and people's deprivedconditions, the imperatives for social workers to engage politically in community practice are discussed. These are asfollows: adhering to values/principles-based social work practice with communities, making an entry and gaining acceptance,awareness-raising and capacity building, challenging exploitative and oppressive community power structures, and ensuringsustainable community development. In conclusion, it is argued that to effectively address these imperatives, social work mayneed to alter its non-political and non-religious neutral stand, where appropriate. In many situations, social workers need tofocus on the profession's fundamental values and principles and actively engage with local politics and power structures so asto improve the living conditions of people and local communities in developing countries.",
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