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Professor Michael Austin's Social Justice and Social Work Published

New book presents humanistic, philosophical and historical perspectives in support of social justice

Professor Michael Austin's edited new book, Social Justice and Social Work: Rediscovering a Core Value of the Profession, is being released this month by Sage.

The publication -- described by Professor Austin as a “longtime project to address the questions, ‘What is social justice and what does it mean to you?’” – is organized into four sections, including the Humanities Perspectives, which focus on the “moral imperative” as exemplified in western philosophy, legal and literary theories as well as history and religion; the Social Sciences Perspectives that views social justice through the lens of “social empathy”; Social Injustice Outside and Inside Human Service Organizations, which incorporates illustrative, real-world case examples of domestic violence, predatory lending, children of incarcerated parents and service recipients in the practice fields of child welfare, mental health and adult aging; and Embedding Social Justice in Social Work Practice, which includes capturing the client voice and incorporating social justice perspectives into agency intake processes.

“Social justice themes grow out of families, life experiences and, in some cases, religious influences,” says Professor Austin. He notes that in his case, the starting point was “the 1960s confluence of several sources -- the Free Speech Movement, the Civil Rights Act and the War on Poverty,” all of which “came together to impact this idea of what is social justice.”

“Social work as a profession is rooted in the core value of social justice, and yet when asked, ‘What is social justice?’ – many social welfare students struggle with an answer,” he adds. “This struggle formed the origins for this project.”

The collaborative project is comprised of chapters produced or coauthored by several Berkeley Social Welfare MSW and doctoral students and recent alumni. Contributors include Sarah Accomazzo (MSW ’09), Christina Branom (MSW ’10), Mary Caplan (MSW ’04), Sam Fitzgerald, Jaclyn Grant (MSW ’11), Anupama Jacob, Leah Jacobs (MSW ’12), Bryn King, Hyun Soo Kwon, Amanda Lehning (PhD ’10), Megan Moore (MSW ’06, PhD ’12), Jennifer Price Wolf (MSW ’07, PhD ’12), Katherine Ray (MSW ’12), Juliene Schrick (MSW ’10), Jasmin Serim (MSW ’12), Siroj Sirojudin, Richard Smith (PhD ’10), Jenny Ventura (MSW ’12), Kelly Whitaker, Elizabeth White and Wendy Wiegmann (MSW ’07)