Change from within: Community social workers as local policy actors

Chen Gilboa, Idit Weiss-Gal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Policy practice (PP) refers to the on-the-job activities of social workers (SWs) intended to influence the design of public policies. Despite the importance attributed to this type of practice within social work, there is limited empirical knowledge on how SWs actually engage in PP and what explains it. This study contributes to this body of knowledge by examining the engagement of eighteen Israeli local government community SWs who engaged in PP to affect their localities' policies. The study employed a qualitative method and used semi-structured interviews. The policy issues addressed were diverse, with policies for children and adults with disabilities, for physical infrastructures and for community development prominent. The participants employed foundational strategies, such as cultivating personal and professional relationships with officials in the municipality's hierarchy, and targeted strategies such as organising meetings between high-level officials and residents. Motivational, facilitating and opportunity factors can explain the engagement in PP. Our main conclusion is that local government community SWs who decided to be policy actors and create change from within adopted a 'collaborative institutional policy practice', which is based primarily on internal, collaborative and consensual strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3540-3558
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2022


  • community social workers
  • local government
  • municipalities
  • policy practice


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