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Theoretical Perspectives of Social Work

Theoretical Perspectives

There are several different social theories, concepts, and perspectives that denote, in one way or another, moments of social interactions, relationships, and phenomena. Each of these theories implies a certain connection not only with theoretical but also with practical activities. They are constantly in development, changing, correcting, and transforming based on a number of essential facts, evidence, and assumptions.

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Nevertheless, to varying degrees and in the form of presentation, these perspectives are consistent with the commitment to social work and justice. Taking note of some social models and methods, a social worker largely has the chance and possibilities to improve and perform activity tasks. In addition, such a person opens up many ways and opportunities to fully implement the proposed plans and programs in reality to implement high-quality and productive work with people. In this paper, several theoretical perspectives, practice approaches to them, and consistency with the aspects of social work are the main topics that will be examined.

Intersectionality Perspective

One of the several significant social theories is the intersectionality theory and perspective. It is based on understanding the processes and cases that arise from human interactions, contacts, and connections (Lumen Learning, 2018). Hence, well-established opinions and assessments are obtained during social interactions and, over time, are somewhat transformed and modified due to interpretations. Moreover, speaking in a larger, “global” sense, intersectionality is seen as a concept of the interaction of all oppression. This, in turn, entails exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence (Payne, 2014).

From the point of view of the theory, society is a certain system and structure in which there are such concepts as identity and diversity of people in terms of race, gender, class, and other elements. In brief, the discrimination system is viewed through the prism of “minority’s categories” (Warner et al., 2018). At the same time, each person is unique and inimitable by nature, but these unique traits can be suppressed. A social worker should consider those aspects that can affect such an unpleasant experience and what can marginalize people.

Practice Approach

Holistic Method

There are some interrelated phenomena and processes that I apply in my practice. For instance, I consider the holistic theoretical approach as the basis of my activity from a particular perspective. In my work, I focus on the main aspects of a person’s life to further identify possible problems, difficulties, and negative changes. This approach helps to clearly understand, comprehend and define a holistic picture of cases and situations (Šubrt, 2019). It is necessary to form a specific work plan to overcome the obstacles that have arisen.

Method Based on Equality

In addition, when communicating with people, I consider such moments as equality, identity, and similarities between some individuals and others. At the same time, it is important to understand and accept in practice the fact that the source of various conflicts and misunderstandings can be inequality. It can be expressed in gender, age, race, class, culture, income level, ability or disability, orientation, and other relevant issues. Moreover, the patterns of inequality can be political, educational, and economic aspects, profession, mobility, the general well-being of the individual, treatment, responsibility, and others (Christophers, 2017).

Thus, as a person who deeply understands people, together with clients, I strive to go through several stages with them. It is essential in forming a person’s identity to understand the individual role and significance in society and the nature of the race. In addition, from the point of view of my duties and rights, I strive to protect my clients’ rights through understanding people’s views, cooperation, and mutual respect.

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Relationship with Commitment to Social Work

Such a theory and practice approach fits perfectly with the obligations of social work and justice as follows. First of all, this method helps me evaluate various existing and potential factors when determining ways to care for people. Secondly, as a social worker, I can examine many, even insignificant at first glance, elements that indirectly or directly affect an individual’s life. In this case, social justice manifests in the interaction between the sociologist and a client, their common interest in the problem, and the desire to achieve specific goals and objectives. In this situation, as a decent and responsible person, I strive to achieve harmony and mutual respect with a person for further mutual cooperation in search of solutions to issues.

Marxist/Radical/Structural Perspective

Another, no less significant perspective is the Marxist theory, or, in other words, the anti-oppressive concept. The basis of this model is the understanding of the activity of a social worker as a power contributing to the implementation of joint collective actions. From the Marxist point of view, certain social processes generate contradictions within the economic infrastructure, leading to an open social conflict. Thus, a distinction is made between institutional relations within the system and the social activity generated by these relations. Such a process increases the self-awareness of a client and aims at implementing positive changes in society. However, despite this statement, the direction of this force can be viewed differently in various modifications of this model.

Practice Approach

The Concept of Power

Within the framework of this concept, I apply the following theoretical foundations, methods, and approaches in my practice. Primarily, based on the situation, the condition, and the case, I use a more comprehensive approach to the issues and demonstrate several Marxist views. They include progressive, reproductive, and in some moments, contradictory positions (Payne, 2014). Thus, it is extremely important and necessary to convey the idea of existing extended rights and opportunities when working with clients. As a social worker, I play a key role in encouraging individuals’ collective actions and manifesting their importance in society, groups, or teams. In addition, within the framework of my official duties, I have special rights and privileges, certain power and authority that allow me to influence a person in particular ways.

I can direct my efforts to an attempt to form, develop and improve a special type of thinking among the certain class (Payne, 2014). Additionally, as part of the activity, the main emphasis of social assistance is placed on the community, which has a functioning social network and a system of social services provided. As a radical social worker, I wish to influence the transformation of capitalist society into creating social mechanisms that are more compatible with certain obligations.

Method Based on Social Changes

Ultimately, the main goal of my work is to contribute to the decomposition of class society as the root cause of social inequality and poverty. For example, the most important task is not eliminating social and individual poverty but the activation and mobilization of the masses striving for social change. From the point of view of Marxist theory, it is in this key that my competencies, talents, and abilities will be fully realized.

Relationship with Commitment to Social Work

The “anti-oppressive concept” acquires the following characteristic features when expressed from the point of view of social work and justice. For example, the theory helps me identify and introduce those social phenomena and manifestations reflected in ideological and progressive views on the formation of characteristic features of the individual and society as a whole. Thus, job responsibilities are differentiated based on radical and structural approaches (Duarte, 2017).

In addition, emphasis is placed on economic, spiritual, social, and political elements that affect social and material structures and conditions (Duarte, 2017). In this vein, justice is achieved, as a rule, due to the achievement of social honesty, order, equality, and stability. As a social worker, I strive with responsibility, seriousness, and a sensitive approach to contribute to the rise of self-awareness and the implementation of changes in society. So, my activity is considered and developed at the structural level.

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Structural/System/Ecological Perspective

The next concept that deserves attention from the point of view of sociologists and interested persons defined by socio-oriented theories is structural, or in other words, the system model. However, along with the rest, including the perspectives presented above, this theory adheres to a common opinion regarding the fact that all organisms are systems. These systems are made up of subsystems, and the system itself is part of the supersystems.

Thus, a person is considered part of society and a set of subsystems. According to research, it is assumed that race is the driving force in the creation of organizational foundations, processes, hierarchies, and systems (Ray, 2019). This theory has become widely used to analyze processes and phenomena involving social groups and public institutions, families, small communities, and collectives. Consequently, the solution to the problems of social protection of human resilience in the main should be based on the improvement and regulation of systems.

Practice Approach

Method Based on Social Systems

As for the practical application of this perspective in real conditions and living circumstances, I successfully apply the following aspects in my work. The theory, as a rule, is involved in those moments when it is necessary to analyze social systems, and it is necessary to identify several subsystems, such as social groups and institutions, and small communities. Thus, a systematic approach allows me to understand, realize and comprehend ideas about those cases that could happen to a person. It can be noted that it is a complex and multifaceted approach that combines broad views and a deep understanding of the dependence of individuals on various systems surrounding them.

During such a brainstorming session, I can easily summarize my thoughts, draw concrete conclusions, and decide which systems can become sources of “healing” for clients. Hence, within the framework of this concept, it can be informal systems, for example, family or friends. In addition, a person can be supported by formal systems and various social organizations. They include political organizations, social services, departments, hospitals, and a number of other institutions and communities.

Moreover, in the role of a social worker, my main tasks within the theoretical framework are differentiated into two groups. On the one hand, they are related to optimizing the activities of institutions, organizations, and departments that can help people solve their problems. On the other hand, this is about helping those in need using social work institutions to meet all their needs, activating the self-protective potentials of a person.

Relationship with Commitment to Social Work

It is worth expressing an idea regarding the fact that this perspective is directly related to the quality of performance of social work, commitment, fairness, honesty, and equality in the following way. Firstly, the concept often solves a client’s problems at all levels, stages, and systems, regardless of the perceived difficulties and obstacles. Secondly, ecosystem theory proclaims the strengthening of people’s adaptive abilities and the influence on their environment in such a way as to make human and habitat compromises more adaptive. Consequently, as a social worker in this approach to solving people’s problems, I influence them and the environment.


In conclusion, to date, there are many important and necessary methods, tactics, and strategies for the execution and implementation of high-quality and effective work of a social worker. Each model has significant features and characteristics that offer a wide range of content of the social activity and methods and forms of its organization. In short, these concepts and programs allow us to enrich, improve, and diversify both theoretical and practical knowledge and skills of a sociologist. Therefore, the workers will have access to broad opportunities and perspectives that help them achieve certain goals and objectives by studying theories and perspectives. One way or another, every knowledge obtained from specialized, professional materials is consistent or at least obliged to comply with the norms and rules of social work and activity, as well as fairness towards others.

Moreover, due to a comprehensive study of theoretical models and approaches in social work, I have identified for myself a preferable theory and practical approach – this is the intersectionality perspective and holistic approach. I strive to show ethical commitment to overcoming inequality and oppression.

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Christophers, B. (2018). Intergenerational inequality? Labour, capital, and housing through the ages. Antipode, 50(1), pp. 101-121. Web.

Duarte, F. (2017). Reshaping political ideology in social work: A critical perspective. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 29(2), pp. 34-44. Web.

Lumen Learning (2018). Introduction to sociology. State University of New York OER Services. Web.

Payne, M. (2014). Modern social work theory (4th ed.). Oxford University Press.

Ray, V. (2019). A theory of racialized organizationsAmerican Sociological Review, 84(1), pp. 26-53. Web.

Šubrt, J. (2019). Individualism, holism and the central dilemma of sociological theory. Emerald Publishing Limited.

Warner, L. R., Settles, I. H., & Shields, S. A. (2018). Intersectionality theory in the psychology of women. In C. B. Travis, J. W. White, A. Rutherford, W. S. Williams, S. L. Cook, & K. F. Wyche (Eds.), APA handbook of the psychology of women: History, theory, and battlegrounds (pp. 521–539). American Psychological Association. Web.

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