SOCW 6361 Week 8

Week 8: Developing and Using Power

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.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Analyze power resources in social work practice
  • Analyze use of power resources in social work practice
  • Analyze ethical issues related to power resources
  • Evaluate strengths and weaknesses of a social policy

Learning Resources

Required Readings

SOCW 6361 Webliography
These websites will be required throughout the semester. Become familiar with these websites, especially when doing research for your assignments.

Jansson, B. S. (2018). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social justice  (8th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning Series.
Chapter 10, “Developing and Using Power in the Policy-Enacting Task” (pp. 372-419)

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

Optional Resources

MSW home page
Use this link to access the MSW home page, which provides resources for your social work program.

Discussion: Using Power in Social Work Practice

Politics represents efforts by people in governmental and nongovernmental settings to secure their policy wishes by developing and using power resources.
—Bruce S. Jansson, Becoming an Effective Policy Advocate: From Policy Practice to Social Justice (8th ed.)

Social workers are in the business of empowering people. They are also often faced with power structures that are entrenched and difficult to navigate. Skillful policy practitioners recognize the many kinds of power resources that exist, thus expanding their options in specific situations. As a social worker, you will learn various strategies that can create and expand personal networks that might be useful in negotiating your policy practice within an agency. You want your power resources to be recognized as effective ways to get things done, not as coercion and force.

In this Discussion, you identify various kinds of power resources (including person-to-person, substantive, process, and procedural) that you can use to secure the adoption of a policy proposal.

To prepare: Review Chapter 10 in your text, focusing on Jansson’s categorization of types of power resources in the policy-enacting task.

By Day 3

Post a 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.

Be sure to support your post with specific references to this week’s resources. If you are using additional articles, be sure to provide full APA-formatted citations for your references.

By Day 5

Respond to a colleague who identified and selected a power resource different from the one you selected. Offer a supportive perspective to his or her choice. Include in your perspective some thoughts on how a social worker can manage the use of his or her power resource.


Waynnesha Wedlow RE: Discussion – Week 8COLLAPSE

Depending on the realm of social work a Clinician is in there are different ways power resources can be used. Power resources aid social workers in advocacy and policy implementation. Power resources can connect social workers with people in position to have their ideas heard and also to law makers in positions to have their ideas put on an agenda for discussion regarding the need and enactment. True power is a transactional process which involves choices (Jansson, 2018). Force is not power in advocacy because it does not give people a choice. The policy advocate wants to present their idea to the receiver or intermediary person or group. From there, the person or group can accept the idea as is, make suggestions, refuse the idea, agree and not mean it, or agree enthusiastically. The receiver and intermediacy individual or group has a number of choices they can make when a policy idea is presented. Both the sender and receiver want something out of the policy that will benefit them, which makes the transactional process ideal because both parties have the opportunity to win.

I would use the process power resource when advocating for policy enactment or reform (Jansson, 2018).  “Policies are shaped in the give and take of deliberations, which are characterized by their tenor, tempo, and scope of conflict” (Jansson, 2018, p. 344). The tenor is the level of conflict, tempo is the timing pace, and duration of deliberations. The scope of conflict is the number and kind of people who participate in the deliberation. Advocates use process power by influencing the tenor, tempo, or scope of conflict of deliberation to get a specific proposal enacted. Depending on the advocate receiving push back about the policy or if more empirical data is being requested on the need for the policy will determine which of the three parts of process power the advocate chooses to influence. The process power resource stands out to me because it invites an opportunity for further development of the proposed policy with input from both the advocate and receiver. Ethical issues using this resource is likely depending on how the policy is supported or not supported. An induvial in position of power apart of the deliberation can be powerful enough to move the policy along without issue or bury the policy. This make others question the individual’s ethical practices. Was the policy pushed along because both the policy advocate and person in power share values, know each other personally, or have mutual circles? Or was the policy buried because the person of power does not agree with the policy advocates values, political views, or policy proposal? Each scenario will raise speculation regarding ethical considerations.


Jansson, B. S. (2018). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social justice. (8th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning Series.

Submission and Grading Information
Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:
Week 8 Discussion Rubric

Post by Day 3 and Respond by Day 5

To participate in this Discussion:
Week 8 Discussion

Project: Part 3: Analysis of a Policy

As an astute social worker and professional policy advocate, once you have selected and identified a social problem, you begin the process of creating and implementing a policy that addresses that social problem. One of the first things you do in the implementation process is an analysis of the social policy you identified.

In Part 3 of your ongoing Social Change Project assignment, you analyze the selected social policy.

By Day 7

Complete Part 3 of your Social Change Project.

Address the following items within a 2-3 page paper:

  • Evaluate the policy’s strengths and weaknesses. What is working? What is not working?
  • How will changing this policy affect clinical social workers or the clients of clinical social workers?
  • Provide an update on the advocacy activities your proposed in the Week 6 Assignment.

Make sure that your assertions are supported by appropriate research and reputable resources.

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