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Political Activism of Social Work Educators

Nancy L. Mary, DSW

ABSTRACT. This paper reports on a survey of MSW classroom and field educators regarding their level of political involvement, perceived value conflicts regarding social work and politics, and opinions of future political opportunities for social workers. Data indicate employees of public organizations have a higher level of involvement than employees of non-profit organizations. Follow-up interviews explore this finding. There was evidence of continued ambivalence to the concept of partisanship. Implications for research and education are shared, including the need to teach ethics and compromise in political arenas, and the development of field practica in electoral politics, policy advocacy and government relations. [Article copies available for a fee from The Haworth Document Delivery
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KEYWORDS. Political activism, social work educators

INTRODUCTION During the last two decades social workers and social work educators have renewed their interest in political involvement. Influencing State Policy, a network of social workers who assist faculty and students in
Nancy L. Mary is Associate Professor, Department of Social Work, California State University, San Bernardino, 5500 University Parkway, San Bernardino, CA 92407-2397 (E-mail: nmary@csusb.edu). Journal of Community Practice, Vol. 9(4) 2001 2001 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved. 1

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influencing state legislation; the development of an advanced concentration in Political Social Work at the University of Houston (University of Houston); and the inclusion of Political Action in the current models of community practice (Weil, 1996) and other efforts indicate interest in political involvement. In addition, in 1997 NASW reported that more than 200 social workers held local, state or federal elective offices nationwide (NASW, 1997), furthering this interest. Though the current climate of citizen distrust of government has dissuaded some of our profession from political participation, trends such as the devolution of federal commitment to welfare entitlements have persuaded others of us into political action. As the social work profession moves into the 21st Century, this research is an attempt to test the water, once again, regarding social work educators political involvement. Following up an earlier study of social work educators (Mary, Ellano, & Newell, 1993), this paper explores three areas: level of political involvement; values related to social work and politics; and identification of barriers and motivators in political activism. The paper will first review the literature on political activity of social workers over the past two decades. It will then discuss the findings of the current study, as well as compare the 1989 and 1999 survey results. The final section discusses trends, issues of participation, and implications for practice models and social work education. POLITICS, VALUES, AND SOCIAL WORK Social workers political awareness of politics has been increasing since the 1960s. As disenfranchised groups began to assert themselves, social workers, too, began to involve themselves in political arenas, assuming positions in coalitions, as lobbyists, and candidates for electoral office. More social workers held political office in the 1970s than ever before in US history (Mahaffey & Hanks, 1982). In the 1980s the political involvement of social work practitioners evolved, and interest in studying this increased. James Wolks 1981 survey of 470 members of the Michigan Chapter of NASW found this sample to be more politically involved than the general population, as studied by Woodward and Roper (1950) and Milbrath (1965). Among the social workers sampled, a relationship was found between greater political involvement and age, practice experience, higher income, and macro level practice.

Nancy L. Mary

In 1989, Mark Ezell studied 500 randomly sampled members of the Washington State NASW, along with 72 graduate MSWs (non-NASW members), to see if changes had occurred during the Reagan years. Using a modified version of Woodward and Ropers Political Activity Index, he found that the key difference in political behavior of social workers over the Reagan years was a greater tendency to communicate with public officials and attend meetings where political speeches were given. In addition, he found that NASW members were more politically active than non-members and, echoing Wolks study, macro practitioners were more active than micro practitioners. About the same time, Mary, Ellano, and Newell (1993) surveyed social work educators about their political behavior, using an expanded version of Milbraths (1965) hierarchy of political activity. Sampling 23 faculty and 104 field instructors, these researchers found, as did Wolk, that social workers had a greater involvement level when compared to general populations studies. As in Wolks study, this study found age and salary to be related to greater overall involvement. And, as in both Wolk and Ezells studies, this sample showed greater involvement of macro, over micro, practitioners. Domanski (1998), in her study of 531 social work leaders in health care settings, chose attributes of political participation from the literature and, from factor loadings on the responses, developed certain prototypes. Ninety percent of the respondents were found to engage in communication, advocacy, and voting behaviors, which parallel Milbraths Spectator category used in Mary, Ellano and Newell (1993). However, a low number were involved in public hearings and activist behaviors, e.g., demonstrations. The authors conclusion was that this corresponds with earlier studies that demonstrate lower levels of participation in activities that entail the greatest initiative, the potential for conflict or fewer opportunities to become involved (Gormley, 1986; Milbrath & Goel, 1977; Olsen, 1982; Reeser, 1986; Verba & Nie, 1972). Value conflicts and politics have also been explored. In Mary, Ellano, and Newell (1993) values were examined by creating value statements fashioned from Thurz (1966) three assumptions regarding social work and political activity: social work is social action; the question of value free social work; and the role of conflict in social work and politics. Findings revealed that, while educators saw congruence between social work and social action, and recognized the myth of value free social work, there were mixed responses as to whether conflict was a necessary part of social work and politics.

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Human service executives had conflicting expectations of advocacy and political involvement. Pawlak and Flynn (1990) studied 57 directors of human service agencies in the Midwest. Almost one-third of these directors had MSW degrees, and 80 percent directed non-profit agencies. Not surprisingly, there was a high level of political involvement. However, the authors conclusion is that non-profit directors should consider two realities when engaging in political activity: (1) the complexity of regulations stemming from the IRS and the Hatch Act regarding what can and cant be done and (2) the unique political environment of the community surrounding each agency and its effect upon the feasibility of political strategies. In 1997, research progressed from studying social workers who typically had little experience in public office to surveying public officials who were also social workers. NASW (1997) surveyed 84 social workers serving as elected government officials at federal, state, and local levels. These questions regarded successes and difficulties they experienced as social workers in politics, how they came to hold public office, and their advice to social workers considering this path. Findings reported these public servants faced many challenges and reported many skills critical for social workers to succeed in politics. Social workers also reported value conflicts such as the need to compromise social work values for political necessity. They recommended that social workers entering politics must learn to be comfortable with ideological conflict and confrontation, and to understand that in politics there are winners and losers (NASW, 1997). As social work moves into the 21st Century, it is again time to take the political pulse of social work educators. Two areas in the authors earlier 1993 study are repeated: a measure of political involvement and values congruence. In addition, considering that todays politics operate in the context of economic globalization and the increased influence of media and money on political discourse (Reisch, 2000), this study explores what might inhibit social work educators from or spur them onto political involvement. METHODOLOGY The population of the current study was from different schools than the earlier study, but within the same geographical region. A questionnaire was mailed to twenty-five classroom faculty from two metropolitan universities, one public and one private, in the southwestern United States and 130 MSW field instructors used by both programs. The study

Nancy L. Mary

repeated the demographics (age, gender, primary field of practice, primary methods used in their work), an expanded version of Milbraths hierarchy of political involvement (1965) and a series of belief statements which drew on Thurz three assumptions regarding social action. In addition, four open-ended questions were asked why social workers might or might not get involved in political action to discover the barriers and incentives for participation. Milbraths hierarchy consists of three levels of political involvement: high investment Gladiator activities, such as being elected to public office; Transitional behaviors, ranging from letter writing to canvassing; and Spectator behaviors, such as voting, they vote, they cheer, but do not do battle. Thurz belief statements were rated on a four point Likert scale, from strongly agree to strongly disagree. Five hypotheses were posed. Four were related to political involvement, and one to values. First, social workers would continue to show a higher level of political participation than Milbraths (1965) general population study. Secondly, social workers would demonstrate high levels of Milbraths Spectator behaviors, e.g., voting, and that very few would be involved in Gladiator activities, such as holding political office, as supported by Domanskis (1988) findings. Third, the variables of increased age and salary would influence political involvement (Milbrath, 1965; Woodward & Roper, 1950; Wolk, 1981; Mary et al., 1989). Fourth, macro practice social workers would be more politically involved than direct practice social workers, as found in Wolk, 1981; Ezell, 1993; and Mary, Ellano, and Newell, 1993. It was hypothesized, regarding values, that the ambivalence regarding value free social work found in the earlier sample would continue and be even more pronounced. FINDINGS This section will first report the quantitative data on the respondents, political involvement, the ideology of social work and politics, and the related hypotheses. This is followed by the qualitative data on the future of social workers in politics and a discussion of the trends which emerged from open-ended questions. The Respondents Even with a small sample size, the profile resembled the former study (1989 N = 127; 1999 N = 63). Two-thirds of the respondents from both

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samples were between the ages of 35 and 55, and Anglo American. Three differences are worth noting. The current study had fewer Asian respondents, reflecting the general population of the area. The range of represented agencies is broader than the earlier study. In the current sample, children, youth and family and mental health agencies represent only forty percent of the sample; the other sixty percent work in medical, substance abuse, various disability programs, aging, and schools. This is compared to seventy percent of the earlier sample who worked in children, youth and family, mental health or health agencies. Finally, the current sample has a larger number of non-MSW masters degree field instructors serving as preceptors (1989 = 8%; 1999 = 21%). Political Involvement Table 1 shows the percentage of both study samples that have ever engaged in specific political activities. Both the 1989 and 1999 percentages indicate a greater degree of political involvement of social workers than those of Milbraths general population studies, supporting the first hypothesis. Given that the 1989 and 1999 surveys of social workers studied two different samples and that the latter sample is half the size of the first, only cautious comparisons can be made. In Milbraths lowest investment category of Spectator activities, participation levels are indeed the highest and are comparable to 1989. However, a larger proportion of the current sample participated in two of the very active Gladiator category activities of attending a political caucus and contributing time to a political campaign. Within the Transitional category is a wide range of activities. In most of these, the current sample is equally if not more involved in them. Especially notable is an increase in letter writing to officials and the newspaper and visiting public officials. Over three-fourths of the current sample reported having attended a boycott, sit-in or demonstration, compared to about one-half of the 1989 sample. On the other hand, monetary contributions to parties or candidates and door-to-door canvassing, both Transitional activities, were reported by a smaller percentage of the 1999 group. With regard to having your name attached to literature supporting a candidate or a community issue, only about one out of five surveyed in both studies is engaged in this behavior. The proportion of people who would post a sign endorsing a candidate or a proposition, however, is currently double what it was in 1989. Although no respondents made hypotheses about classroom and field faculty differences, these groups differed on two activities. A greater

Nancy L. Mary

TABLE 1. Percentage of Faculty and Field Instructors Who Had Ever Engaged in Various Political Activities: Comparison 1989 and 1999
Political Activity 1989 (N = 127) 1999 (N = 63)

Gladiator Activities: Been elected to a public office Been appointed to a public office Been a candidate for public office Solicited political funds Attended a political caucus Contributed time to a political campaign Worked actively in a local political action group to do community problem solving Transitional Activities: Made a monetary contribution to a party or candidate Wrote a letter to a public official or candidate Visited a public official or candidate Door-to-door or telephone canvassing Been arrested for a political action Circulated a petition Attended a political meeting or rally Attended a boycott, sit-in, march, demonstration Testified before a legislative committee Testified before a community hearing Wrote a letter to a newspaper, magazine or journal about a political issue Spectator Activities: Worn a button or put a political sticker on your car Attempted to talk another person into voting a certain way Initiated a political discussion Voted for national or state official (regularly)

2% (3) 6% (8) 2% (3) 23% (29) 25% (32) 49% (62) 32% (41) 72% (91) 77% (98) 61% (77) 43% (55) 2% (3) 56% (71) 70% (89) 53% (67) 19% (24) 31% (39)

3% (2) 8% (5) 5% (3) 24% (15) 37% (23) 59% (37) 40% (25) 63% (39) 87% (55) 71% (45) 39% (24) 2% (1) 53% (33) 76% (48) 76% (48) 27% (17) 41% (36)

29% (37)

40% (25)

58% (74)

67% (42)

69% (88) 81% (103) 89% (113)

76% (47) 87% (55) 92% (57)

JOURNAL OF COMMUNITY PRACTICE TABLE 1 (continued)

Political Activity Voted for local officials and initiatives (regularly) Had your name included on campaign literature as a supporter Displayed a candidates sign on your property Displayed a sign supporting or opposing a proposition on your property Had your name included on literature supporting or opposing a community issue

1989 (N = 127) 89% (113)

1999 (N = 63) 92% (57)

21% (27) 24% (30)

20% (12) 40% (25)

15% (19)

30% (19)

23% (29)

21% (13)

percentage of faculty had participated in a boycott, sit-in, march, or demonstration, whereas a greater percentage of field instructors reported having initiated a political discussion. Factors Influencing Political Involvement The study did not confirm results of former studies that older and higher paid individuals have significantly higher participation rates. The influence of age was assessed by constructing a total political involvement score (the sum of all the activities listed). Scores were then grouped into high and low and cross-tabulated with age groupings of 28-47 and 48-68. Sixty-eight percent of the older respondents had a high political involvement score compared to 44 percent of the younger age grouping (2 = 3.06, df = 1, p < .08). The hypothesis that macro practitioners would score higher than direct practitioners was confirmed. Scores were cross-tabulated with three groups of direct practice, supervisors, and macro practitioners (administrators, consultants, policy planners, researchers). Sixty-two and sixty-three percent, respectively, of the supervisors and macro practitioners were high in political involvement compared to 27 percent of the direct practitioners (2 = 5.91, df = 2, p < .05). No significant differences were found between field instructors and classroom instructors, nor were there any differences in political involvement related to gender, ethnic group, or educational level.

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Why Are Public Agency Employees More Politically Involved? Social work educators who work in public (vs. private) human service agencies demonstrated significantly higher total political involvement scores (2 = 9.5, df = 1, p < .002). Specific activities in which public employees scored significantly higher are listed below in Table 2. To discover why this difference occurred, we interviewed seven respondents by telephone. The questions asked were: What are your thoughts on why public employees might be more involved in these activities? What might be the political forces, institutional factors or motivators? All four public employees responded that they could not escape policy and politics due to the legal framework within which we work and the public dollars we receive. It was felt that perhaps in the private agency, the aspect of policy is not as close to your work and that in a public agency you are surrounded by policy and procedure in some form or anotherit affects you daily. Three of the four pointed out that public involvement might have something to do with the disenfranchised nature of the populations served, unlike non profits that may serve middle class clientele, less likely to be involved with public sector services. Perhaps the need for justice is clear to them [public employees] and they want to be counted . . . to speak out for justice. One pointed out that public agencies have a legacy of involvement, and speculated that perhaps public employees are more socially conscious than most people. The fact that public agencies may interact more with other entities within the social welfare system than private agencies was noted by three of the four, as a reason for more political involvement. We are increasingly involved with contacts with the outside world and our ability to go to different associations and conferences, e.g., sending a group of folks to NASW or legislative days is seen as relevant to their work. One public employee noted that they might have more flexible schedules or benefit time to be involved. This was supported by the quasi-governmental employee who stated, We have more allowance during work time than a small non profit agency might have. And finally another mentioned the access to information that public agencies have. One of the non-profit providers supported this as well: Thats why we started the resource center for non-profits to get information. When youre trying to provide services, youre busy just staying in business, and dont have time to go searching for information.

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TABLE 2. Political Involvement of Social Work Eductors in Public vs. Private Agencies
Activity Have you ever: Made a monetary contribution to a party or candidate Circulated a petition Attended a political meeting or rally Attended a boycott, sit-in, march or demonstration Attempted to talk another person into voting a certain way Displayed a candidate's sign on your property Displayed a sign supporting or opposing a proposition on your property * .05 ** <.05 *** <.005 77% ** 67% * 93% *** 70% ** 90% ** 53% * 52% 42% 62% 44% 65% 29% Public (N = 30) Private (N = 24)

47% **

18%

Employees of non profits made two main points with regard to their involvement: (1) there are limits to lobbying by non profits and (2) it is critical to belong to a larger network or coalition for information and collective influence. With respect to lobbying, one of the respondents mentioned the perceived dangers, particularly in a conservative environment: Many of us have to rely on government funding and its a double edged swordyou dont want to bite the hand that feeds you. . . . in this county most of the philanthropists and elected officials are well-to-do. If you are not careful you could suffer a decrease in giving. These comments echo those of executive directors in Pawlek and Flynns (1990) study who felt pressure to exhibit political leanings from those who had helped the agencies significantly. Another respondent emphasized the importance of belonging to a larger political group: I went to a Coalition for Coordinated Advocacy Conference involving both public and private agencies, which is a statewide group making efforts to improve funding . . . so that people wont be fighting each other for funds.

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Ideology of Politics and Social Work The results of social workers responses to Thurz value statements are found in Table 3. The first assumption, that social work and social action are congruent, recalls the findings in the 1989 survey. Both samples were in moderate agreement that social reform is a part of social work. The one exception is two-thirds of the current sample answered affirmatively to the statement putting the needs of my client before larger reform. Regarding ambivalence toward value-free social work, respondents were even more split regarding the value-free, emotionally neutral, politically autonomous nature of social work than was the case ten years ago. In 1989, 53 percent espoused the view of social work as a partisan interest group, compared to 80 percent of the present sample, who disagreed with the statement that effective social work involves political non-partisanship. Trends in Ideology Two trends regarding factors that might influence ideology are worth noting. The inherently political nature of social work was agreed to more often by macro social workers than by direct practitioners (2 = 7.10, df = 2, p < .02). Macro practitioners were also more likely to see social work as involving conflict and confrontation (2 = 5.99, df = 2, p < .05). Social workers in public agencies saw social work more often as inherently political (2 = 5.06, df = 1, p < .05) than social workers in private agencies. Do Social Work Educators See Political Involvement in Their Own Future? Respondents were asked about their future and what might inhibit or increase their political involvement. They were asked if they expected to become more, less, or involved at about the same level in joining or organizing interest groups, influencing local, state or national policy, or serving as an elected or appointed official. The majority saw themselves less involved in interest groups, but almost a third planned to be involved in influencing policy at some level. Eleven (17%) of the sixty-three saw themselves being appointed or elected to public office. When asked why they would or would not pursue public office, respon-

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TABLE 3. Percentage Agreement with Statements Regarding Politics and Social Work (N = 63) (% in parentheses are 1989 percentages)
Assumption #1: Social Work/Social Action Congruence
1. As a social worker, to effectively access resources for ones clientele, one must have some understanding of political systems. 2. Social work, in principle, is not separable from social reform. 3. Part of a social workers ethical responsibility to society involves engaging in political activities. 4. Social work is inherently political. 5. As a direct service practitioner I must always attend to the needs of my client before I engage in larger reform or political issues.* Agree and Strongly Agree Disagree and Strongly Disagree Missing Data

95% 92%

5% 8%

68% 73%

32% 27%

62% (43%)

35% (47%)

3%

Assumption #2: Value Free Social Work 6. Because we hold high the principle of self-determination, our influence upon a clients decision making is always value free.* 7. Social works professional norms make it autonomousset it apart- from various political interest groups.* 8. One danger of furthering ones political involvement as a social worker is the development of a partisan position on human problems.* 9. Whether we work with a family, testify in court, or attend a strategy meeting, social workers should remain as emotionally neutral as possible.* 10. To be an effective social worker one must be politically non-partisan.* Assumption #3: Conflict, Social Work and Politics 11. Confrontation, struggle and conflict are inherent in social work practice.

30% (17%)

67% (75%)

3%

42% (26%)

55% (59%)

3%

52% (32%)

47% (54%)

1%

48% (39%) 18% (39%)

48% (53%) 80% (53%)

3% 2%

85%

14%

1%

Nancy L. Mary TABLE 3 (continued)


Assumption #3: Conflict, Social Work and Politics
12. In all areas of social work conflict is necessary and can be constructive. 13. Political activity by its nature always involves conflict. 14. The business of politics is compromise. 15. The business of social work is the establishment of consensus through a problem solving process. 16. Political strategy involves, more often than not, conflict and confrontation. 17. Social work strategy, more often than not, involves conflict and confrontation. Agree and Strongly Agree 64% 52% 68% Disagree and Strongly Disagree Missing Data

13

33% 47% 30%

3% 2% 2%

74%

24%

2%

58%

41%

2%

41%

58%

2%

*Statements which contrast with 1989 findings (in parentheses)

dents most often stated that they had no interest in or time for politics. Ten (16%) stated that their personal characteristics that ran counter to politics, e.g., I know too little about it, I never tried, Im good at behind the scenes activities. Seven (11%) identified drawbacks inherent in politics, e.g., the dishonesty involved, the funds needed, the limits on personal privacy. Of the eleven (17%) who thought about pursuing public office, four were active on local commissions or as field representatives and wanted to pursue more responsible positions in politics. What Inhibits Social Workers from Seeking Positions of Political Leadership? More than 52 (83%) of those surveyed made comments about the barriers to political leadership. Content analysis was made of the eighty-five distinct comments. Twenty-eight (33%) of the comments fell into the Goodness of Fit categorythat is, social workers are not trained in politics and dont see what they do within a political context. For example, there is too much emphasis on the clinical in this state or there is lack of appreciation for political processes. Twenty-one (25%) of the responses reflected Practical Concerns such as no time, no energy and no money. Another seventeen (20%) fell into the

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Politics as Dirty Business category. The dominant themes were that politics meant selling out, candidates are for sale, and social workers are not interested in fame . . . they lack the necessary level of self absorption. Minor themes were the need for campaign finance reform and the fear of losing ones job if one is too political. Finally, in the fifteen comments (18%) in the area of Value Conflicts, the dominant theme was the inability to or fear of compromise. Included, for example, were too often we portray ourselves as moral, which inhibits the give and take so essential to governance, and social workers have difficulty with the hard knocks of politics. A minor theme was the invasion of ones privacy. What Might Motivate Social Workers to Seek Positions of Political Leadership? When asked what might engage social workers in political activities, thirty-seven (57%) responded and a total of 45 comments were analyzed. The two most common suggestions were to increase graduate education in the political arena (13) and to create peer support for political opportunities (13). Comments included, for example, licensure support of the role, and more assistance from organizations devoted to helping social workers get involved. Seven (15%) related to the need for individual social workers to change their views and take stands, and the need for institutions to change, for example, we need campaign finance reform. Five (11%) comments offered strategies such as we need to become more involved in business to develop financial resources, and two (4%) mentioned changes needed in the larger society, for example, increasing societal values of honesty, fairness, and human rights. DISCUSSION The general finding of a high level of involvement in this sample of social workers compared to the general population is encouraging. However, due to sample size, caution is advised in comparing the two studies and generalizing results. Nevertheless, the low level of participation in gladiator roles has not changed significantly. Next to voting, writing letters to candidates and initiating political discussions are the most frequent activities. This is consistent with Ezells (1993) finding

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that letter writing was one of the key differences in political behavior of social workers since the Reagan years. Low participation in door-to-door or telephone canvassing, monetary contributions to candidates, and having ones name on campaign literature may reflect the general finding that most social workers do not plan to pursue an appointed or elected office. The study confirmed the hypothesis that social work macro practitioners are more politically active, perhaps because their jobs require them to be involved in implementing and/or formulating policy. What is surprising is the evidence that public social workers are more highly politically active than those in private agencies. Follow-up interviews suggest that the political nature of public agency environments, easier access to policy and political information than non profits, more flexible work schedules, and the importance of networks are factors that influence social worker involvement in political change. Responses of social workers, both macro and public employees, indicate their belief that the fit between politics and social work is inherently more political than do those of direct practitioners or private agency employees. It makes sense that social workers more involved in political processes would perceive social work, as more partisan and political in nature. However, to understand the dynamics of how social workers become politicized in their work, further research is needed. At one level, social work educators appear to accept the congruence between social reform and social work and, to a lesser degree, the necessity of compromise and conflict in their work. However, social work educators do not espouse the view that social workers are a partisan interest group. In short, they struggle to embrace the concepts of partisanship and the Ill pat your back, you pat mine crucial to the political process, as expressed by some social workers in political positions in the 1997 NASW study. Influencing state or local policy was an area in which a third of the respondents projected an increase in their political behavior. The suggestion that we need peer groups to better enable folks to get involved is noteworthy. According to the NASW study (1997), 77% of social worker politicians said they had a mentor. Efforts such as the Influencing State Policy network and NASW chapter involvement in political advocacy promise to provide avenues for informed support, guidance, and perhaps more formalized mentoring. This study raises several important questions for further research. Why are social workers employed by public agencies more politically active than those in private agencies? What is the lobbying potential of

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non profit social workers who are networked compared to those who are more isolated? What are the significant workplace factors in public agencies that allow for greater political participation? And finally, a statewide or national study of political participation of social workers, is needed, with a larger random sample of those who are involved in education vs. those who are not. Finally, implications for social work education relate to how values, ethics, and skills in political social work are taught. Content on ethics and values, including discussion of social work as an interest group, a partisan profession, is necessary to challenge the notion that social work should not be party to the give and take of the political process. It is a myth that direct practitioners operate from a value free stance with their clients, allowing them total self-determination. Making the connection among family, agency and public service environments and political arenas is an important one. The inability to or fear of compromise is a barrier to social workers assuming political leadership. Attention to ethical behavior and compromise in political decision-making is needed in the curriculum. This study also raises concern as to whether social work students are trained to work in the political arena. Social work politicians have identified the people skills most necessary for success: listening, responding, caring; linking, advocacy and brokering; posing alternative solutions and seeking consensus around them; negotiation and mediation (NASW, 1997). Although these are not foreign to social work education, they need to be practiced in the field practicum. In a survey of 460 social work programs, less than 20 percent of the undergraduate programs and less than 50 percent of the graduate programs responding had available field practice in electoral politics and policy advocacy (Wolk, Pray, Weismiller, & Dempsey, 1996). These authors suggest ways to pursue such practice at all levels of politics. Moreover, Rose (1999) points out opportunities in municipal politics. This legitimate but often neglected area of community practice is charged with getting out the vote, communicating with the electorate, developing position papers, and energizing people toward action. In campaigning for municipal office, social work skills complement these tasks. CONCLUSION With the turn of the 21st century, society continues to face citizen distrust of government and a turning toward community based organizations

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for local change, on the part of government and the public at large. Yet surprisingly, new faces have appeared in politics, including business tycoons, professional wrestlers, and an increasing number of social workers. Some see todays attitude of public apathy as just another low in the waxing and waning of societys embrace of politicians and the role of government in problem solving. Others point to this age as a new one, which may require a new paradigm, such as in Spiritual Politics (McLaughlin & Davidson, 1994) and The Politics of Meaning (Lerner, 1997). The social work profession is not untouched by these debates, and social work educators should embrace them. The profession teaches empowerment. Our charge is to nurture social workers and clients who seek a place at the table of public decision-making. It behooves us, then, to examine the way programs teach values, ethics, and skills in leadership in political arenas, and the commitment of social work educators to provide opportunities for students in electoral and appointed positions, whether it be as a member of the local commission on women or people with disabilities, a candidate for the city council, or as a social worker running for Congress. Wherever change is happening, from the bottom up, in private/ public collaboratives, or from the top down, social workers are there, and social work education should provide the necessary tools and support to enhance the role of social work in politics. REFERENCES
Domanski, M. (1998). Prototypes of social work political education: An empirical model, Social Work, 43 (2), 156-167. Ezell, M. (1993). The political activity of social workers: A post-Reagan update, Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 20 (4), 81-97. Gerwitz, N. (1999). Welfare reform: Making the case for multidimensional social work strategies, presentation at CSWE Annual Program Meeting, March 10-13, 1999, San Francisco, CA. Gormley, W. Jr. (1986). The representation revolution: Reforming state regulation through public representation, Administration and Society, 18, 179-196. Influencing State Policy [online] Available: http://www.statepolicy.org/html/mission.html Lerner, M. (1997). The politics of meaning. Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co. Mahaffey, M. and Hanks, J. (1982). Practical politics: Social work and political responsibility. Washington DC: NASW. Mary, N., Ellano, C. and Newell, J. (1993). Political activism in social work: A study of social work educators, in Mizrahi, T. and Morrison, J. (Eds.) Community organization and social administration: Advances, trends and emerging principles. New York: The Haworth Press, Inc., 203-223.

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APPENDIX A. Percentage of Faculty and Field Instructors Who Have Ever Engaged in Political Activities
Political Activity
Gladiator Activities Been elected to public office Been appointed to public office Been candidate for public office Solicited political funds Attended a political caucus Contributed time to political campaign Worked actively in political action group to do community problem solving Transitional Activities Made monetary contribution to party or candidate Wrote letter to public official or candidate Visited public official or candidate Done door-to-door or phone canvassing Been arrested for a political action Circulated a petition Attended a political meeting or rally Attended a boycott, sit-in, march or demonstration Testified before a legislative committee Testified before a community hearing (local or national) Written letter to newspaper, magazine or journal about a political issue 71% 86% 71% 36% 7% 64% 79% 79% 43% 43% 10 12 10 5 1 9 11 11 6 6 60% 88% 71% 40% 0% 50% 76% 49% 23% 41% 29 43 35 19 0 24 37 24 11 20 NS NS NS NS NS NS NS .05 NS NS 0% 14% 7% 14% 50% 50% 0 2 1 2 7 7 4% 6% 4% 27% 33% 61% 2 3 2 13 16 30 NS NS NS NS NS NS

Fac % (N = 14)

Fld % (N = 48)

50%

38%

18

NS

57%

35%

17

NS

20

JOURNAL OF COMMUNITY PRACTICE APPENDIX A (continued)

Spectator Activities Worn a button or put a political sticker on your car Attempted to talk another person into voting a certain way Initiated a political discussion Voted for officials or initiatives on a regular basis Had your name included on campaign literature as a supporter Displayed a candidates sign on your property Displayed a sign supporting or opposing a proposition on your property Had your name included on literature supporting or opposing a community issue 71% 64% 71% 86% 7% 29% 10 9 10 12 1 4 65% 79% 92% 94% 23% 43% 32 38 45 45 11 21 NS NS .04 NS NS NS

21%

33%

16

NS

29%

18%

NS