Chaos theory and complexity theory, collectively known as nonlinear dynamics or dynamical systems theory, provide a mathematical framework for thinking about change over time. Chaos theory seeks an understanding of simple systems that may change in a sudden, unexpected, or irregular way. Complexity theory focuses on complex systems involving numerous interacting parts, which often give rise to unexpected order. The framework that encompasses both theories is one of nonlinear interactions between variables that give rise to outcomes that are not easily predictable. This entry provides a nonmathematical introduction, discussion of current research, and references for further reading.
Dorothy N. Gamble and Marie Weil
Major social changes resulting from globalization, the increase in multicultural societies, and growing concerns for human rights, especially for women and girls, will affect all community practice in this century. Community-practice processes—organizing, planning, sustainable development, and progressive social change—are challenged by these trends and the ethical dilemmas they pose. Eight distinct models of community-practice intervention are described with examples from around the globe. The values and ethics that ground community-practice interventions are drawn from international and national literature. Model applications are identified for work with groups, urban and rural communities, organizations and coalitions, and in advocacy and leadership for social justice and human rights.
Frederic G. Reamer
Digital, online, and other electronic technology has transformed the nature of social work practice and education. Contemporary social workers can provide services to clients by using online counseling, telephone counseling, video counseling, cybertherapy (avatar therapy), self-guided Web-based interventions, electronic social networks, e-mail, and text messages. In addition, increasing numbers of social work education programs are using distance education technology to teach students. The introduction of diverse digital, online, and other forms of electronic social services has created a wide range of complex ethical and related risk management issues. This article provides an overview of current technology used in social work; identifies compelling ethical issues; and explores risk-management issues. The author identifies relevant standards from the NASW Code of Ethics and other resources designed to guide practice.
David F. Gillespie
Disasters are a form of collective stress posing an unavoidable threat to people around the world. Disaster losses result from interactions among the natural, social, and built environments, which are becoming increasingly complex. The risk of disaster and people's susceptibility to damage or harm from disasters is represented with the concept of vulnerability. Data from the Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and genocide in Darfur, Sudan, show poor people suffer disproportionately from disasters. Disaster social work intervenes in the social and built environments to reduce vulnerability and prevent or reduce long-term social, health, and mental health problems from disasters.
Cheryl A. Hyde
Feminist social work practice is based on principles derived from the political and social analyses of the women's movement. As a practice approach, feminism emphasizes gendered analyses and solutions, democratized structures and processes, diversity and inclusivity, linking personal situations with political solutions, and transformation at all levels of intervention. Feminist practice is in concert with a multisystemic approach; it complements and extends strength-based social work. It requires of the practitioner, regardless of method, to be relational and open to other ways of knowing and understanding.
Tracy M. Soska
Housing, especially homeownership and affordable housing, remains essential to the American Dream but also among our most challenging social issues, particularly given the collapse of the housing market in the early 21st century. Housing and affordable housing are inextricably linked to both our national economic crisis and our wavering social policies. Housing is both symptomatic of and a catalyst for overarching social and economic issues, such as poverty, economic and educational inequality, and racial disparities, and it remains an unmet need for a significant portion of our population, such as the elderly, disabled, victims of abuse, those aging out of child welfare, veterans, ex-offenders, and others who encounter unique difficulties and lack of supportive services and service coordination. Advancing comprehensive and coordinated housing policies and programs remains important for social work and in the struggle for decent and affordable housing for all.
Benjamin J. Lough
This entry provides a brief historical overview of international volunteer service, along with changes to traditional forms of international service. It presents a general typology for contemporary international-service programs and reviews how these forms differ in practice. Using the limited data available, it provides a demographic snapshot of the scale and prevalence of international volunteer service from the United States and globally. The entry then reviews critical intersections between international service and social work, and describes debates of particular concern to the social worker profession. Finally, the entry outlines important areas for future social work research and practice.
Nancy P. Kropf
Although the terms older adult and senior citizen are commonly defined as individuals 60 years and above, later adulthood contains various life-course phases and developmental periods. The “young-old,” defined as individuals in the age range of 60–75 years, often experience various health, social, and economic transitions. Both the individual and family systems must negotiate some of the concomitant changes that accompany the journey into later life. Therefore, this first decade of older adulthood is one that can simultaneously be enjoyable, exciting, demanding, and stressful for aging persons and their family.
Michàlle E. Mor Barak and Dnika Jones Travis
Social work organizations depend on a well-trained and responsive workforce to provide quality services. Human resource management (HRM) refers to the design of formal systems that ensure effective and efficient use of human talent, and serves as a vehicle to accomplish organizational goals. Effective HRM requires applying the same person-in-environment value orientation that guides client services to managing human resources. Considering the complexity of HRM, we have developed an organizing framework focused on employee development, organizational effectiveness, and cross-cutting HRM issues. In today's economic, legal, cultural and technological environment that emphasizes accountability, effective management of human talent is critical.
A consistent theme for the majority of men in the United States remains the code of manhood. Men are expected by society to be stoic in the face of danger and to play out, in all aspects of life, the idea of the rugged individual going it alone, even in the face of a quickly changing world. Whereas social-work theorists and practitioners talk about male aggression, sexuality, intimacy, depression, anxiety, addiction, ageing, and work-related concerns, most men are less likely to view these as problems. If they do enter into counseling or treatment, they are less likely to remain for any length of time. Faced with these issues, practitioners are challenged to find ways of engaging men and forming successful collaboration and meaningful outcomes.