Faithful engagement : an examination of the nature and role of values in social policy practice.
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Sousa, Lori M. 1968-
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In social work, a commitment to individual and societal values is foundational, professionally-sanctioned and necessary for culturally sensitive, ethical practice. Values are instrumental in the formation of cultural norms, in the configuration of beliefs systems, and often, they serve as an impetus for policy practice (PP). It is, therefore, surprising that there is a lack of theoretical models that examine and assess the role of values in social PP. The aim of this dissertation is to gain greater insight into this arena. By understanding the nature of values and the role they play in all aspects of social policy, policy practitioners will be better equipped to engage in social PP in a manner that is consistent with ethical, social work practice. This dissertation includes three studies that provide substantial data to suggest that values are a critical, yet overlooked factor in social PP. Based on the findings of these studies, I, as the researcher, constructed the following models to aid policy practitioners in value-sensitive PP: 1) The Religion and Spirituality in Social Policy Practice model (RSSPP)--a framework for conceptualizing the process by which policy practitioners integrate RS in social PP; 2) The Client-Centered Value-Sensitive Social Policy Practice model (VSSPP)--a model used to assist policy practitioners in creating an environment where client values are identified, assessed and employed to guide social policy; and 3) The Individual Policy Frame--a diagram used illustrate significant factors that influence an individual’s values and impact that person’s social policy positions. This dissertation provides tools and suggestions that can be utilized by policy practitioners to engage in client-centered, social PP. Without adequate instruments, social workers often find themselves in an unfamiliar policy arena where their voices and the voices of those they advocate for are marginalized. This dissertation aims to create an empowering environment where social workers are equipped to engage in PP effectively, and where the values of clients and communities are esteemed.