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Policy, Politics, and Ethics, Third Edition

A Critical Approach

Third Edition

Thomas M. Meenaghan, Keith M. Kilty, Dennis D. Long, and John G. McNutt

Publication Date - 01 July 2013

ISBN: 9780190615345

338 pages


Policy, Politics, and Ethics challenges readers to consider the complex social and political factors that influence policy development. Social workers and other professionals in the helping fields must critically engage with policy on both the large and small scale in order to achieve social change. While analyzing policy, professionals must always be aware of the political, organizational, and personal interests that underpin the development and implementation of any social policy. In this book, Thomas Meenaghan, Keith Kilty, Dennis Long, and John McNutt examine both the rational and the political aspects of social policy using scientific inquiry. The book focuses on the interaction between applied research methods and various social, scientific, and technological components behind policy processes.

The new edition of this text will be a valuable tool to teach your students to think critically about policy. Ethical and political forces are identified as they may relate to populations and groups at risk as well as to the steps taken to address problems. The book presents a variety of methodological approaches including program evaluation, needs assessment, and cost-benefit analysis. The authors have updated the text to address CSWE competencies, and have introduced thought boxes that will guide discussion about issues and ideas.

New to this Edition

  • Thought boxes to reinforce content and prompt further consideration of issues, ideas, and applications
  • CSWE competencies discussed throughout the text
  • Internet resources and references


  • The scientific method presented clearly and discussed both in relation to understanding policy development and analyzing policy implications
  • Policy and policy analysis presented at all levels of professional practice

About the Author(s)

THOMAS M. MEENAGHAN (PhD; MSW, Fordham University) is professor
emeritus in the Silver School of Social Work at New York University. He has practiced in the Institute of Urban Research, was chair of graduate studies at Ohio State University, School of Social Work, was professor and dean at Loyola University Chicago, School of Social Work, and has been a member of the Commission on Accreditation of Social Work.

KEITH M. KILTY (PhD; MS, SUNY, Binghamton) is professor emeritus of social work at Ohio State University. For more than thirty years, he has been an active member of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, where he served as vice president and chaired the Poverty, Class, and Inequality Division. He made a documentary about poverty in America, titled Ain't I a Person. The intent was to put a human face back on poverty after thirty years of conservative efforts to demonize the poor in America, as well as to dispel some of the myths that are now rampant about poverty. Visit www.aintiaperson.com http://www.aintiaperson.com/ for more information.

DENNIS D. LONG (PhD, University of Cincinnati; MSW, Ohio State University) is associate dean of the College of Social Sciences, Health, and Education and professor of social work at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. The author of numerous articles and books, his scholarship and teaching focus on the importance of larger social systems and macro-level social work practice.

JOHN G. MCNUTT (PhD, University of Tennessee; MSW, University of
Alabama)is professor of public policy and administration at the University of Delaware. His many published works include four coauthored or coedited books and articles, book chapters, book reviews and other published materials on advocacy, nonprofits, volunteerism, community development technology and nonprofit organizations, and technology and public participation.

Table of Contents

    Part 1 The Helping Professions
    Chapter 1: The Helping Professions and the Convergence of Politics and Science
    Chapter 2: Science, Knowledge, and Inquiry
    Chapter 3: Applying Scientific Inquiry in the Social and Political World
    Chapter 4: Policy, Politics, Reason, Values, and Inquiry
    Chapter 5: Operationalizing Policy: Organizational Forces and Analysis
    Part 2 Need, Risk, and Social Groups
    Chapter 6: Crucial Concepts of Human Needs
    Chapter 7: Understanding Populations at Risk
    Part 3 Pursuing Policy Analysis: Selected Methods, Decision Making, and Human Services
    Chapter 8: Needs Assessment Methods
    Chapter 9: Crucial Issues in Needs Assessment
    Chapter 10: Program Evaluation Methods
    Chapter 11: Crucial Issues in Program Evaluation
    Chapter 12: Context and Choices

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