Abstract: Inequities in the Profession's Literature: Is the Voice of Muslims Missing from Social Work? (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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719P Inequities in the Profession's Literature: Is the Voice of Muslims Missing from Social Work?

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
David R Hodge, PhD, Professor and Honors Faculty, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ
Altaf Husain, PhD, Associate Professor, Howard University, Washington, DC, DC
Background and Purpose: Hate crimes represent a profound violation of people’s basic human rights (FBI, n.d.). Within the religion category, federal data indicate Muslims are the second most targeted group according to the most current data (as of April 2022). Muslims were more likely to be victimized by hate crimes than Atheists, Agnostics, Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs—combined (FBI, 2020). A profession’s priorities—including its social justice priorities—are reflected in its literature. Content analysis is widely used to ascertain social work’s commitment to various groups and perspectives. The purpose of this study was to conduct a content analysis of influential social work periodicals to determine the profession’s commitment to featuring content that gives voice to Muslims and their perspectives.

Methods: Building upon previous analyses, articles were harvested from nine influential social work periodicals: 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. Titles and abstracts of all articles published in these journals over a 10-year period were manually reviewed by two trained coders to identify potentially relevant articles. Each coder independently coded each article. After coding, the coders meet to resolve inconsistencies. The analytic process was guided by a post-positivist epistemological perspective. Based upon this philosophical stance, an interpretive content analysis was conducted in which analysis moves beyond literal coding by incorporating an inductive frame, drawing on both latent and manifest communication in the coding of the content.

Results: Of the 3,746 refereed articles reviewed, 2.22% (N=83) addressed spirituality or religion in some form, with 7 focusing on Islam. In other words, articles featuring Muslims or an Islamic perspective accounted for roughly 0.19 percent of all the articles that appeared in discourse-shaping periodicals over the examined 10-year time period. To put this finding in a broader context, the number of articles devoted to Islam would have to be increased by roughly 500% to achieve equity or parity with the percentage of Muslims in the general population according to Pew Research Center data.

Conclusions and Implications: The results suggest that the voice of Muslims is largely missing from the profession’s literature. This finding raises questions about the profession’s ability to comply with its ethical standards. To equip social workers to ameliorate hate crimes and other forms of discrimination directed toward Muslims—as called for NASW Code of Ethics (2021)—it is imperative to have content that addresses prejudice directed toward Muslims. Similarly, to work in an ethical and effective manner with Muslims, it is it is necessary for practitioners to be exposed to content about this culturally distinct population. This study plays an important role in identifying a gap in the profession’s literature that needs to be addressed so that social workers are better equipped to serve all of the diverse populations that comprise society in a just and equitable manner.