Social Work Paper


Power and politics have a bad reputation among some [social work] professionals, who regard them as unseemly, even unethical. However, power and politics can often be used for ethical purposes, and each of us can develop and use power resources to help stigmatized groups and unpopular causes. (Jansson, 8th ed.)
Do you agree?
This week you will examine strategies for developing and using power in policy advocacy. You will become familiar with ways to affect policy indirectly by strategically and creatively using power resources—and even politics—to your advantage in shaping policy outcomes. You will also gain insight into the delicate and difficult task of balancing power so that it is not perceived as intimidation, force, or coercion.
Finally, you will explore the strengths and weaknesses of a social policy created and implemented to address a social problem you selected.

Focusing on Jansson’s categorization of types of power resources in the policy-enacting task.
Write a one page description of how social workers use power resources in their social work practice and advocacy. Select a type of power resource you would use in your practice and advocacy. Describe the ethical issues or concerns in using the type of power resource you selected.


Using Power in Social Work Practice

Power resources are most effective with legislators (Jansson, 2014). They are developed from the actions of policy supporters in response to the needs of the people (Rocha, Poe & Thomas, 2010). Some of these power resources include process power and substantive power. The use of such resources in doing social work helps in the creation of policies that help certain groups in society. For instance, a political leader may use his political power to come up with policies that may help unprivileged members of society be treated as part of the community. Therefore, as much as people may want to disregard the use of power resources in doing social work, they have to understand that in some cases, the use of power and politics may help in making their work easier.


Process power is used to influence the level, timing and scope of deliberating conflicts so as to get a suggestion enacted (Jansson, 2014).When a certain problem is confronted using these three dimensions, the probability of winning is high.When trying to advocate for a certain policy, time is an important factor.The timing of a disputed proposal often favors a specific side (Jansson, 2014). Proper timing may help in enacting a proposal hence helping in doing social work.A careful analysis of the level and scope of conflict may also help in coming up with effective policies that will actually help people.

There are ethical issues that come into play when using process power in practicing and advocacy. To begin with, manipulation is an ethical concern (Jansson, 2008). This may happen in a situation whereby an advocate wants to win and uses either threats or even failure to disclose all the information. This may give the advocate an advantage over the competitor byincreasing the odds of succeeding. The policy may be enacted but due to unethical practices. Social workers should therefore avoid manipulating others in order to enact a policy because it may break trust and cause opposition of the policy.

In addition, using power in a dishonest way is also unethical. Many people may be dishonest in order to get a competitive edge over the opponent. An ethical dilemma comes in when a social worker tries to choose between honesty and social justice (Jansson, 2008). Many times, social workers may choose to tell a lie in pursuit of social justice. This makes them utilize their power in a dishonest way, which is unethical. In such situation, social workers should seek advice from seniors or peers rather than misuse their power. 

In conclusion, social workers use power every day in their work either knowingly or unknowingly. If used properly, both substantive and process power resources in fighting for the rights of some stigmatized groups. However, they should also be careful on how they use their powers. Unethical use of power such as manipulation and dishonesty may lead to distrust and opposition of suggested policies. Social workers should therefore embrace the use of power resources so that they may make a difference both in practice and advocacy.


Jansson, B. S., (2008). Becoming an Effective Policy Advocate: From Policy Practice to Social Justice (5th edition). Belmont: Thomson Higher Education

Jansson, B. S., (2014). Becoming an Effective Policy Advocate: From Policy Practice to Social Justice (8th edition). Boston: Cengage Learning

Rocha, C., Poe, B. & Thomas, V. (2010).Political activities of social workers: Addressing perceived barriers to political participation. Social Work,55(4), 317–325.

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