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Politics (Yes, Politics) For Social Workers: A Guide for Affecting Change

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“I don’t disparage the really important, gifted clinical work… but the danger of understanding social work interventions as clinical and individual is that… We wind up trying to fix people, instead of trying to fix systems that box them often into utterly unworkable problems.”

Dr. Stephen Pimpare

Social work positions itself as the profession that promotes and strives for social justice. Yet, a significant number of practitioners work at the micro level. So, how can we use those skills to advocate for social change?

Stephen Pimpare talks with us about what lessons we can take away from our daily practice and calls us to action in advocacy for social change that improves the well-being of the people and places we serve. We are living in an era of extraordinary social and cultural upheaval. Times are ripe for political action, but what prevents many of us from getting involved in activism and politics? Dr. Pimpare will offer both practical and conceptual answers to that question. He will discuss the effective use of power to impact larger systems, tips for building knowledge and strategy, and how to exert influence. Want to be a change agent at the macro level? Listen in and learn how to cause good trouble.

Stephen Pimpare

Stephen Pimpare, PhD is founder and director of the Public Service & Nonprofit Leadership Program at the University of New Hampshire; he has previously taught at the Columbia University, NYU, Simmons, and Hunter College schools of social work. Dr. Pimpare previously served as a senior-level administrator of not-for-profit organizations addressing issues of poverty, hunger, and homelessness throughout New York City. One of the programs he helped to create, One City Café, New York’s first non-profit restaurant, was hailed by the New York Times as “the reinvention of the soup kitchen” and subsequently received the Victory Against Hunger Award from the U.S. Congressional Hunger Center. His newest book, Politics for Social Workers: A Practical Guide to Effecting Change, was published in 2021 by Columbia University Press.

Show Notes

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  • It is so important for social workers to get involved with politics. There is to many cases of laws being passed or stereotypes being made by people who do not understand the communities that they are talking about. If you look at police today, several people have been killed by police while in a crisis situation because the police did not understand how to handle the situation. Social workers need to be involved with every aspect when it is concerning someone’s life.

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