Most people are familiar with the term “ social worker,” and envision a man or woman working with youth, foster children, displaced homemakers, elderly and other clients. Social work, however, takes place at three levels, and practitioners often work in just one arena. Some deal with individual clients, some with groups of people and some never deal with clients at all.
Micro, Mezzo and Macro
Micro social work involves traditional client-based interventions. These practitioners work with clients in adoption, youth aging-out, those in poverty and others. Specialists in mezzo social work deal with communities such as neighborhoods, schools and corrections facilities. Some of these workers might, for example, work in marginal neighborhoods managing issues like clean drinking water, access to education and healthcare. Macro social workers work with large groups of people like communities and cities, they advocate for general welfare issues, provide public education about those issues and seek remedy and resources. They also work in government as advisors on maintaining regulation compliance and in developing policies.
More About Macro
Examples of actual macro social work are found on a school of social work website. They include a social worker who helps develop and improve programs and policies for people with disabilities. She works closely with advocacy groups to guarantee their access to agencies and governmental entities. Another macro social worker labored in Ethiopia to help targeted communities maintain a supply of fresh water, improve education opportunities and to enable residents to develop economic opportunities that would sustain the communities. Still another practitioner worked through the government department of Medicare and Medicaid to influence programs and educate legislators about welfare needs.
The Association of Macro Practice Social Workers identifies several goals for this type of social work. In general, they work to guarantee for all people:
- Freedom from violence
- Economic security
- Civil rights
- Health care
- Mental health
- Rights of children, youth and families and
- Environmental rights
Macro social workers are employed within agencies, municipalities and national, state and local governments to address these issues of social welfare.
Macro Social Worker Educational Needs
Most of these practitioners have at least a graduate degree in social work. They must have some knowledge of organizational behavior, understand how to interpret data, possess interpersonal skills that allow them to work in collaboration with others and be fluent in written, digital and verbal communication. Leadership skills are imperative. Many macro social workers recommend maintaining licensure with the state where the worker lives as well as certification in areas such as community development.
Where they Work
Recent jobs for macro social workers listed on the Internet include a Preparedness Social Worker with the Department of State Health Services in Texas, an associate director of social strategy for a communications company, a professor of social work, a program manager of services to the homeless and other positions. From this short list, it is easy to see that macro social workers are engaged in education, activism, government and even business.
Related Resource: Top 10 Affordable Master of Social Work Online (MSW) Degrees
Some positions in macro social work seem distant from the traditional role. Still, the objective of most social workers is to help people maintain a decent standard of living and to guarantee social justice and individual rights. Macro social workers have the same goals in mind, but they serve communities and populations instead of individual clients, and they do so through political and social channels that affect society in general.