Promoting Justice in Social Work

Instructor: Reed Hepler

Reed Hepler received an M.L.I.S. from IUPUI, with emphases in Digital Curation and Archives Management. He received a Bachelor’s in History from USU, with minors in Religious Studies and Anthropology. He also earned a Certificate in Museum Studies. He has worked in museums, libraries, archives, and historical sites for the past four years.

Learn about the importance of the social worker's professional commitment to promoting justice. Explore how social workers can promote justice in social work. Discover how justice-related problems affect the external and internal lives of social work client populations. Updated: 05/27/2022

Social Worker and Justice

Social work is a profession that is intricately connected with the administration of justice. Social workers help individuals and families solve personal problems. They also seek to help with general problems and speak on behalf of marginalized populations.

Legal justice is related to the ethical and just administration of the laws of the land. Many of the problems of marginalized populations are related to the oppression of minorities by the majority population. As the will and preferences of the majority population are often codified into local and state laws, the oppression of minorities is built into community norms and policies.

Legal and codified justice is not the only type of justice that social workers deal with. Another type of justice is social justice. This type of justice is not related to official policies. Rather, social justice deals with societal norms that are common in the community. For example, stereotypes and prejudices lead to systemic discrimination. This discrimination leads to poverty, employment issues, and other negative aspects.

Both of these types of problems can cause significant temporal, emotional, and mental problems. For example, marginalized populations suffer a disproportionate amount from depression, anxiety, and other mental problems.

How Social Workers can Promote Justice

There are many ways that social workers can promote legal justice. They can communicate with policymakers. They can collaborate with and form interest groups that can collectively bargain for the rights of marginalized populations. They can encourage marginalized populations to vote during elections. Social workers could also obtain a degree in law so they could understand the nuances of federal and state laws. In this way, they can advocate for marginalized populations within the confines of the law. They can also help their clients understand the current laws. Another benefit of this decision is that social workers could also understand how current laws need to change in order to give marginalized populations more freedoms.

Social workers also have an obligation to promote social justice in their communities. There are multiple ways that this can be done. Social workers can organize community cultural celebrations to increase the pluralistic feeling in their community. They can also work with community administration organizations to develop resource groups and institutions to help marginalized populations. Another way to address societal social injustices is to encourage the majority population to change their discriminatory and oppressive actions.

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