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.
Mary E. Rogge
The concept of environmental justice gained currency in the public arena during the latter part of the 20th century. It embodies social work's person-in-environment perspective and dedication to people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and poor. The pursuit of environmental justice engages citizens in local to international struggles for economic resources, health, and well-being, and in struggles for political voice and the realization of civil and human rights.
Richard Wolff and Karen Dodge
This entry discusses migrant workers in the United States and the unique circumstances and conditions they face. Included in the discussion are social problems faced by migrants with respect to health, housing, working conditions, child labor, and education. Policy issues are addressed, including relevant national, international, and corporate laws. Migrant patterns, demographics, and definitions are presented. Finally, social work programs, responses, and interventions are identified.
Alice B. Gates
This entry describes worker centers as new sites of community practice. Worker centers are community-based organizations focused on the needs of low-wage and immigrant workers. This new organizational form emerged most prominently in the United States since the mid-1990s, largely in response to concerns about workplace abuses in low-wage and informal sectors. Drawing on multiple traditions, including labor unions, settlement houses, and ethnic agencies, worker centers offer a hybrid approach to planned change: They support workers organizing for collective action, provide direct services, and advocate for policy change at state and local levels. In the last decade, worker centers have led the efforts to pass legislation protecting domestic workers and helped low-wage workers win millions of dollars in lost or stolen wages from employers. These and other notable examples of U.S. worker centers’ contributions to community practice and social justice will be discussed.