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Social Work and Social Justice

Concepts, Challenges, and Strategies

Michael Reisch and Charles D. Garvin

Publication Date - 07 April 2016

ISBN: 9780199893010

448 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Goes beyond a discussion of abstract social justice concepts and goals by focusing on how concepts can be used as guides for socially just practice


Social Work and Social Justice transcends discussions of abstract social justice concepts and goals by focusing on how these concepts can be used as guides for socially just practice at the interpersonal, organizational, community, and societal levels. In addition to emphasizing the importance of social justice work through compelling examples, case studies, and exercises, this book vividly illustrates its complexity and discusses how social workers can negotiate the practical and ethical challenges involved. Unlike many books on the subject, the text integrates diverse and often conflicting approaches to social justice to promote critical thinking and underscore the value of incorporating various perspectives into one's practice. Other distinguishing features include: its emphasis on the complementary nature of socially just goals and processes; its use of well-developed case examples, often drawn from the authors' experience; and the authors' reflection on the implications of these examples from both "micro" and "macro" perspectives, along with a discussion of how practitioners with diverse understandings of social justice might interpret the case. Social Work and Social Justice is based on the authors' extensive teaching and practice experience in a wide variety of fields, both in the U.S. and internationally, and on their research on such varied topics as welfare reform, mental health, social work practice theory, social work values and ethics, and the history and philosophy of social welfare and social work. It is undeniably a must-have resource for students and faculty in undergraduate and graduate social work programs, as well as practitioners in social work and the human services.


  • Includes a multi-faceted definition of social justice.
  • Deals with broader dimensions of practice than competing texts.
  • Focuses on how concepts can be used as guides for socially just practice at the interpersonal, organizational, community, and societal levels.
  • Includes study questions at end of chapters.
  • Contains examples and useful figures/tables.

About the Author(s)

Michael Reisch, PhD, is the Daniel Thursz Distinguished Professor of Social Justice at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. He has published and lectured widely on such topics as poverty and inequality, welfare reform, the history and philosophy of social welfare, and contemporary social policy, and held leadership positions in numerous advocacy, professional, and social change organizations. In 2013, he was named "Social Work Educator of the Year" by the Maryland Chapter of NASW and, in 2014, he received the "Teacher of the Year" award from the University of Maryland Baltimore and the Significant Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council on Social Work Education.

Charles Garvin, PhD, AM, received his Master's degree in Social Work in 1951 and PhD in Social Work from the University of Chicago in 1968. He was a professor of social work at the University of Michigan from 1965 until he became Professor Emeritus in 2002. He is the author of numerous texts and over 100 articles and book chapters on social work, social work education, group work, social work practice, and research. His current work deals with integrating the concept of social justice into all social work activities. In 2013, he received the Significant Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council on Social Work Education.


"Reisch and Garvin have provided us with a timely and exciting exploration of this foundation of social work - its definitions, history, and theoretical underpinnings. Furthermore, the book tackles the critical issues for practice--how to recognize the processes of inequalities and injustices and how to be a skilled social justice practitioner juggling the complex and dialectic nature of competing agendas and ideas... This is a must-read for all social workers and those in social policy and social welfare aspiring to drive social change in an unequal world." --Lesley Chenoweth, FFACSW, PhD, MSW, Pro Vice Chancellor and Head, Logan Campus, Griffith University

"Social Work and Social Justice is a tour-de-force that will empower students with knowledge and skills to move from reading about social justice to practicing it. Reisch and Garvin, two of the profession's most valuable scholar/activists, prepare students for socially just client engagement as well as social justice practice with communities, strategic policy practice, and innovative strategies and methods for socially just research and evaluation. This remarkable book is accessible and erudite. It is unparalleled in the field." --Marie Weil, DSW, MSW, Berg-Beach Professor of Community Practice, UNC-Chapel Hill; Founding Editor of The Journal of Community Practice

"At last a book that seamlessly connects social justice frameworks to the pragmatics of social work practice at multiple levels, from individuals and families to organizations and policy. To their great credit, Michael Reisch, Charles Garvin, and their colleagues have produced a scholarly text that at the same time is eminently practical. Accessible without being reductionist, the book robustly presents a diverse range of theoretical and conceptual perspectives on social justice, both non-Western and Western. Testament to the deep knowledge and expertise of its authors, this valuable book is at once comprehensive, inclusive, and coherent. It is both a significant teaching and practice resource, and a very welcome addition to the applied social justice literature." --Susan P. Kemp, PhD, Charles O. Cressey Endowed Professor, University of Washington School of Social Work

"Reisch and Garvin have produced one of the most comprehensive and complex books for social work educators and scholars. It spans the spectrum of required social work curriculum competencies challenging critical thinkers to unpack concepts including human rights and cultural competency from both historic and contemporary lenses... It is a thick and deep book that provides rich information on the religious and philosophical principles that are at the core of social work, well beyond the traditional presentation. At the same time, the authors exhort educators and researchers to analyze their own assumptions and those of their students, colleagues, and practitioners at the individual, family, group, community, organizational, and policy levels." --Terry Mizrahi, PhD, MSW, Professor, Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College; former President of the National Association of Social Workers

Table of Contents

    Part I
    Chapter 1: Introduction: Background, Themes, and Goals
    Chapter 2: Alternative Concepts of Social Justice
    Chapter 3: Social Justice and the Social Work Profession
    Chapter 4: Theories and Concepts Underlying Socially Just Practice

    Part II
    Chapter 5: Social Justice and Individual and Family Change
    By Charles D. Garvin and Edith Lewis
    Chapter 6: Socially Just Group Work Practice
    By Charles D. Garvin and Robert M. Ortega
    Chapter 7: Socially Just Organizational Practice
    Chapter 8: Working with Communities to Promote Social Justice
    Chapter 9: Creating and Implementing Socially Just Policies
    Chapter 10: Socially Just Research and Evaluation

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