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Encyclopedia of Macro Social Work

February 01, 2022
People read from encyclopedia representing the Encyclopedia of Macro Social Work

In July 2021, Oxford University Press, in association with the National Association of Social Workers Press (NASW), published their inaugural issue of The Encyclopedia of Macro Social Work (EOMSW). It began with updated and expanded macro social work content collected from their Encyclopedia of Social Work, an essential resource for social workers for more than 85 years. An editorial team is curating new topics for inclusion in this first edition.1 The EOMSW includes macro social work concepts, theories, ideologies, contexts, challenges and practice methods (community, organizations, policy, etc.), written by professionals in the field of social work.2

The encyclopedia, in addition to its nearly 200 long-form articles, includes an introduction to the macro social work field as well as topical guides for researchers and students. The EOMSW is unique, in that there is nothing like it that serves as a clearinghouse of information for those interested in the field. This specialized social work encyclopedia takes an expansive view of the various topics and considerations in macro social work.2

The Encyclopedia of Macro Social Work is accessible through the Oxford Research Encyclopedias website. The EOMSW is available online and a three-volume print edition is expected in 2022.3

Why Macro Social Work is Important

Macro social work focuses on social structures and social systems, organizations, communities and public policies, rather than on individuals and their immediate families.1 The concept of macro social work can be traced back to Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams, who in the late 1800s and early 1900s, was a pioneer in macro social work and the settlement house movement. As founder of Chicago’s Hull House, the nation’s first social settlement, she centered her efforts on providing services and support to the underprivileged, investigating community problems and highlighting the importance of civic responsibility.4

As no person is an island, a social worker must consider an individual’s interaction with their wider social structure, community, organizations and public policies that influence their lives. Even so, in the second half of the 20th century, the emphasis in social work was more on micro social work—that is, clinical direct practice.5

In the past several years, as students and professionals in the field of social work have become more interested in the challenges of schools, social organizations, communities, political systems and policy advocacy, macro social work is seeing a resurgence. Technological advances, public health and climate change all play a part in this movement towards macro practice.5

How Does Macro Social Work Compare to Mezzo and Micro?

The type of social work practice you specialize in will dictate the scope of your work. In micro social work, you will be engaging with individuals and their families. This is found in clinical therapy and social work. In mezzo social work, your concerns will be with smaller gatherings of people, such as community organizations and neighborhoods. As a macro social worker, you’ll be involved with wider groups like larger communities, cities and institutions.6

Macro Social Work as a Valuable Resource for Today’s Social Workers

Those in the social work field often start in the micro area, working closely with individual clients, and then move into macro-level work, as their research to help their patients’ lives may lead to solutions for significant problems they face as part of a community.5 In this way, macro social work can provide greater insight to your clinical practice, if you are a professional who offers support to your clients and their families.

If you are interested in social research, having experience in macro social work can add a new dimension to your research work. Specialists in macro-level social work can explore many different research areas, from investigating social issues on a community level to working in government think tanks, universities and other research facilities. As a research analyst, you can discover the origins of social problems and help to find solutions.6

Career Opportunities for Master of Social Work Graduates

There are many exciting career opportunities for professionals with a master’s degree in social work, on micro, mezzo and macro levels. What would you like your role to be? Maybe you want to work one-on-one with patients in private practice. Or perhaps you’re driven to research social problems with colleagues to help pinpoint challenges and find solutions. After a career in clinical social work, you may wish to teach others just entering the field. Or you may want to continue to expand your knowledge as a student, studying the latest developments in social work, learning new methods and practices.

It is projected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that social work jobs will grow by 12 percent in the decade ending 2030, and the median pay for social workers in 2020 was $51,760 per year.7

Other top-paying social work occupations include:

  • Social and Community Service Managers—$69,600 per year, 15 percent job growth8
  • Postsecondary Teachers—$80,560 per year, 12 percent job growth9
  • Sociologist—$86,110 per year, 5 percent job growth10

As a Master of Social Work graduate with an interest in macro social work, you can choose your direction from a wide range of possibilities. Macro-level social work opportunities include community organizing and advocacy, program development, community educating, research and evaluation, policy analysis and advocacy, human services specialists and leadership roles.11,6

The Importance and Promise of Macro Social Work

There are many different opportunities in the field of macro social work. Global challenges like income inequality and health disparities, social ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of white supremacy and climate change make the need especially great for macro social work professionals. With the right training and motivation, you can make your mark, drive advocacy and social policy, and change lives.12

Prepare for Your Career in Macro Social Work at Yeshiva University

If you are an aspiring social worker or counselor and want to take your career to a higher level, consider how Yeshiva University’s online Master of Social Work (MSW) program can help prepare you to improve people’s lives and make a difference in the world. The convenient online program, accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), offers specializations and training in advanced clinical practice, group work and community practice.

  1. Retrieved on November 9, 2021, from socialworkmanager.org/press-blogs/news/call-new-topics-abstracts-first-encyclopedia-macro-social-work/
  2. Retrieved on November 9, 2021, from oxfordre.com/socialwork/page/macro-social-work/the-encyclopedia-of-macro-social-work
  3. Retrieved on November 9, 2021, from oxfordre.com/newsitem/591/first-encyclopedia-of-macro-social-work-articles-published-online
  4. Retrieved on November 9, 2021, from nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1931/addams/biographical/
  5. Retrieved on November 9, 2021, from socialworktoday.com/archive/032216p16.shtml
  6. Retrieved on November 9, 2021, from online.yu.edu/wurzweiler/blog/understanding-macro-social-work
  7. Retrieved on November 9, 2021, from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm
  8. Retrieved on November 9, 2021, from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm
  9. Retrieved on November 9, 2021, from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm
  10. Retrieved on November 9, 2021, from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/sociologists.htm#tab-1
  11. Retrieved on November 9, 2021, from socialworker.com/feature-articles/career-jobs/job-search-macro-social-workers-cast-large-net-to-make-big-impact/
  12. Retrieved on November 9, 2021, from forbes.com/sites/forbesnonprofitcouncil/2021/03/17/10-global-challenges-to-overcome-in-2021/?sh=525b32417f18