The University of St. Thomas

School of Social Work

Social Work for Social Justice: Integrative Statement

Social Work for Social Justice: Integrative Statement

Integrative Statement

“The primary mission of the social work profession is to 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. A historic and defining feature of
social work is the profession's focus on individual well-being in a social context and the well-being of society. Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living.

Social workers promote social justice and social change with and on behalf of clients. “Clients” is used inclusively to refer to individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers are sensitive to cultural and ethnic diversity and strive to end discrimination, oppression, poverty, and other forms of social injustice. These activities may be in the form of direct practice,
community organizing, supervision, consultation, administration, advocacy, social and political action, policy development and implementation, education, and research and evaluation. Social workers seek to enhance the capacity of people to address their own needs. Social workers also seek to promote the responsiveness of organizations, communities, and other social institutions to individuals’ “needs and social problems.”
– Preamble, NASW Code of Ethics

Social work practice at all levels strives towards social justice.

Social work practice:

  • direct service
  • community organizing
  • supervision
  • consultation
  • administration
  • advocacy
  • social and political action
  • policy development and implementation
  • education
  • research and evaluation

At all levels:

  • with individuals, families and groups -- at the micro level              
  • organizations and communities -- at the meso level
  • society and the global community -- at the macro level

Strives toward social justice through these principles which are articulated by numerous faith traditions

  • Human dignity
  • Community and the common good
  • Rights and responsibilities
  • Priority for the poor and vulnerable
  • Participation
  • Dignity of work and the rights of workers
  • Solidarity
  • Stewardship
  • Governance/subsidiarity