A profession’s priorities are reflected in its literature (Kuhn, 1970). Consequently, content analysis is widely used to ascertain social work’s commitment to various groups and issues. Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to conduct a content analysis of discourse-shaping periodicals to determine the profession’s commitment to: 1) providing culturally relevant services to members of the American Jewish population, and 2) addressing antisemitism.
Methods: Articles were harvested from: Social Work, Social Work Research, Families in Society, Social Service Review, Child Welfare, Research on Social Work Practice, Journal of Social Service Research, Journal of Social Work Education, and Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research. All issues published from 2008 to 2017 (inclusive) were reviewed by two trained coders. Initially, titles, keywords, and abstracts were read to identify articles that focused on spirituality or religion in some form, and then subsequently coded by religious group to identify articles that focused on Jews/antisemitism.
Articles that potentially meet the inclusion criteria were subsequently examined in-depth. Each coder independently coded each article and recorded their responses on a separate coding sheet (Corley & Young, 2018). After coding, the coders meet to resolve inconsistencies (Pelts et al., 2014). In instances where the two coders did not agree, a third coder served as the tie-breaker. Our analytic process was guided by a post-positivist epistemological perspective. Based upon this philosophical stance, we conducted what Drisko and Maschi (2016) refer to as an interpretive content analysis.
Results: A total of 3,746 refereed articles were reviewed. Of these, 2.22% (N=83) addressed spirituality or religion in some form. Of the 83 articles, a plurality addressed a generic expression of spirituality (41%, n=33), 29% (n=24) addressed a generic expression of spirituality and religion, 13% (n=11) focused on a generic expression of religion, and 18% (n=15) focused on a specific religious group. Of these 18 articles, roughly half (n=7) focused on Islam. None focused on the American Jewish population or addressed antisemitism.
Conclusions and Implications: The results highlight a significant knowledge gap for a profession committed to culturally competent service provision and the alleviation of social injustice. It is difficult, if not impossible, for social workers to provide culturally relevant services to American Jews, or address antisemitism, without being exposed to content on these topics. In turn, this underscores the need for additional scholarship on the American Jewish population and their concerns, which will better position social workers to fulfill their ethical commitments and promote positive social change.