Abstract: (Withdrawn) Merging Micro and Macro Practice: The Point of View of Social Workers Working with at-Risk Young Adults (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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(Withdrawn) Merging Micro and Macro Practice: The Point of View of Social Workers Working with at-Risk Young Adults

Saturday, January 14, 2023
Valley of the Sun B, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Dassi Postan-Aizik, PhD, Assistant Professor, Max Stern Yezreel Valley College, Israel
Guy Feldman, PhD, Lecturer, Tel Aviv University, Israel
Yafit Sulimani- Aidan, PhD, A professor at Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
Background and Purpose: Within the social work profession, micro and macro practice have been deeply interconnected and crucial for achieving the profession’s stated mission of working toward social justice. Despite this dual approach to practice, there has often been a dichotomy between these two types of practice. Given the complex social problems that social workers are required to address as well as the changing architecture of the welfare state, the need for social workers to engage in multilevel practice has grown over the past decades. Against this backdrop, scholars have called for the integration of micro and macro practice in social work, as opposed to focusing on one type of practice. Despite the burgeoning attention to the need to synthesize micro and macro practice, little is known about how social workers at the frontline integrate these two types of practice. The current study aims to broaden our knowledge of the micro-macro relationship by examining the perceptions and experiences of social workers who work with at-risk young adults and practice both macro and micro interventions.

Methods: The study utilized a qualitative‐constructivist perspective, which seeks to capture the essence of a phenomenon through a close examination of people's individual perceptions and experiences in light of the broader social‐political relations in which they are enmeshed. The sample included 30 social workers who work with at-risk young adult between the ages 18-26 in the public social services in Israel. Practicing micro and macro interventions was considered a core component of their job description. Data were collected through in-depth interview with participants. Informed by an inductive approach to data analysis, all data were coded thematically with the aid of Nvivo.

Results: Findings indicate that social workers strongly support the integration between micro and macro practice and share a profound understanding of its importance in promoting their clients’ interests. However, findings show that social workers are confronted with four distinct challenges while trying to engage in multilevel practice: (a) limited knowledge and skills which are required to carry out both interventions; (b) limited hours of work and high workload, which lead to lack of time to invest in both practices in a balanced manner; (c) limited or lack of supportive services resources within the social welfare system; and (d) the highly political nature of interventions at the macro level, which deters social workers from engaging in such interventions.

Conclusion and Implications: Findings suggest that one cannot simply call for the integration of these two practices or view it as another task that social workers need to add to their burdensome basket of tasks, without recognizing and addressing the challenges that the already exhausted and overworked social workers face in the public services today. Findings indicate a need to enhance students and practitioners’ capacity to integrate macro and micro interventions. At the policy level, findings emphasize the importance of an adequate and comprehensive social welfare system which provides crucial services that cannot be substituted by the service provided by individual caseworkers.