The impact of social work on society is manifest in the careers of many dedicated people. In a troubled world, a passion for social work paired with a career in social binds communities together. Social workers focus their efforts in areas where social justice is lacking and desperately needed, intending to create a more just and equitable society.
Typically, people earning a degree in social work already have a solid commitment to social justice. Social workers are on the “front lines” of the battle for social justice every day by working in child welfare, criminal justice, and providing access to healthcare.
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) emphasizes social justice in the preamble of its Code of Ethics: “Social workers promote social justice and social change with and on behalf of clients.”
The Importance of Social Justice
Social justice advocates offer a clear, hopeful vision for the future of society. They call for a society that distributes its resources equitably and ensures a physically and psychologically safe environment for every member within it.
The COVID-19 pandemic shone a harsh spotlight on social justice as health outcome disparities in marginalized communities grew. A study in the journal International Social Work found that “sometimes all that social workers and their clients have time for is to survive for the next challenge.”
Nonetheless, the study also envisions a future where social work includes an even stronger connection with and advocacy for vulnerable groups, families, and individuals. This vision includes connecting those facing financial hardships to the right resources, ensuring equal access to healthcare, and supporting sustainability initiatives. Sustainability is increasingly important as climate change has the greatest impact on the most vulnerable communities.
The Impact of Social Work on Society
Because social justice is such a challenging issue, the NASW currently focuses on five social justice priorities.
- Voting Rights. This includes increasing voter participation and providing voting rights updates.
- Criminal Justice and Juvenile Justice. The NASW works on issues of solitary confinement, racial profiling by law enforcement, disparities in the criminal justice system, and reform efforts.
- Environment Justice. NASW focuses on the connection between climate change and health. Their efforts seek to promote environmental justice for those in vulnerable communities.
- Economic Justice. This includes focusing on reforms to welfare programs that can help them better serve communities.
- Immigration. NASW provides leadership on initiatives to better the lives of children and families in the U.S. immigration system.
Work in these areas supports the mission of social workers. NASW writes that the impact of social work on society should “enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty.”
Careers in Social Justice
Earning a degree in social work prepares graduates for social justice careers in various specializations. Common types of social work include:
- Working with the homeless
- Child welfare
- Access to healthcare
- Advocacy for marginalized communities
- Criminal justice
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), success in social work centers on a core set of skills. Crucial among these skills are effective communication, compassion, empathy, organization, and problem-solving.
The BLS also reports an average annual salary of $64,940. Social workers are in demand, with 12 percent job growth expected by 2030.
The Touro University Worldwide online Bachelor of Arts in Social Work degree helps students hone these skills and learn how to live by the NASW social work code of ethics. TUW offers a generous credit transfer policy to help students quickly earn their degrees. Students learn at their own pace, taking from 3 ½ years to seven years to complete their degree.
The degree program prepares graduates for a successful career in community social work and improving the lives of others. With the systemic disparities among people of different races, ethnicities, and economic statuses, it’s a calling needed now more than ever.