The policy engagement of social workers: a research overview

Idit Weiss-Gal, John Gal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Policy engagement by social workers that seeks to impact public policies that advance social justice and human rights has, and continues to be, a core component of the social work profession. This has also led to a growing volume of research focusing upon the routes that social workers can take to be part of the policy formulation process. The aim of this article is to provide a research overview of five policy routes, which include two civic routes, specifically voluntary political participation and holding elected office, and three professional routes, specifically policy practice, academic policy engagement and policy participation through professional organisations. The overview expands our knowledge on contemporary research trends regarding the level of engagement in each route, the form that this takes and the factors that explain it. The factors that have been identified in the research literature as impacting social workers’ policy engagement will draw upon the policy engagement conceptual framework. The methodologies employed in the studies are discussed. Finally, the article concludes by identifying under-researched facets of social workers’ policy engagement and suggesting a research agenda for the field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-64
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Social Work Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2023


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