Social Work, Politics, and Social Policy Education: Applying a Multidimensional Framework of Poweredit
The call to promote social justice sets the social work profession in a political context. In an effort to enhance social workers’ preparedness to engage in political advocacy, this article calls on educators to integrate a broad theoretical understanding of power into social policy curricula. We suggest the use of a multidimensional conceptualization of power that emphasizes mechanisms of decision making, agenda control, and attitude formation. We then apply these mechanisms to demonstrate how two prominent features of contemporary politics—party polarization and racially biased attitudes—affect the ability of social workers to influence policy. Finally, we suggest content that social work educators can integrate to prepare future social workers to engage in strategic and effective social justice advocacy.