Method: All three studies are quantitative but use different data sources and methods. The first uses a national survey of social work students and a descriptive analysis. The second analyzes secondary data from the National Politics Study survey and quantitative modeling (multiple regression and ordinal logistic regression). The third paper uses multiple data sources including state-level policy and economic data and measures of racial salience obtained from other studies and generated for this analysis. It examines correlations of different measures of racial salience and uses OLS regression and Firth logistic regression to model state welfare policy implementation as a function of these variables.
Results: The first paper finds that social work students, regardless of practice orientation (micro or macro), perceive social action to be important or very important and feel very confident or confident engaging in such action. It also finds that students place more importance on and have greater confidence engaging in interpersonal rather than community or structural level actions. Students of color are significantly more confident than white students in their ability to engage in social action. The second paper finds that system-legitimizing racial stereotypes distance minority groups from one another and harm cross-racial support for policies that advance minority interests. It also finds partial support for the role of legitimizing myths in explaining attitudes toward affirmative action. The last paper demonstrates that different measures of the salience of race to state policy are closely related and produce similar overall patterns when used as predictors in empirical models of state policy. There are differences, however, in the statistical significance of the results using different measures that indicate caution is warranted in inference.
Implications: The papers in this symposium collectively tell us that political attitudes are central to social work policy practice. Attitudes, especially attitudes about race, shape the design of and public support for social policies. Social work educators and social workers engaging in policy action should address the nature and consequences of such attitudes in their activities.