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The Use of Groups in Non- Clinical Social Work Practice Step Seven of the Decision Tree Chapter 17.

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Presentation on theme: "The Use of Groups in Non- Clinical Social Work Practice Step Seven of the Decision Tree Chapter 17."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Use of Groups in Non- Clinical Social Work Practice Step Seven of the Decision Tree Chapter 17

2 Policy, Advocacy, Management & Community Practice : Group Dynamics Unlike clinical group work practice, where group is one method choice among several clinical method options, the use of groups is integral to policy, advocacy, management and community practice. Accountability depends on the practitioner’s ability to manage group dynamics consistent with the demands of each macro practice area. This chapter explores group dynamics in non- clinical areas of practice.

3 Non-Clinical Groups Part of Professional Career Regardless of concentration (clinical or non- clinical), all social workers will lead or staff groups throughout their professional career. As in clinical groups, constructive and destructive forces co-exist in non-clinical groups. All social workers must be taught to manage the “disastrous power of group associations and intervene in the skilled misuse that could be made of group dynamics” Konopka.

4 Non-Clinical Groups Professional Career Social workers may chair or serve as a member of a board, delegate council, coalition, committee, deliberative meeting, task group, project team, or activist group. Social work curricula includes little on managing the dynamics of such non-clinical groups. Yet, as members of non-clinical groups, all social workers share collective responsibility for the group’s process and outcome.

5 Obligations of Social Workers Non-Clinical Groups All social workers need to be: (1) knowledgeable about how groups work (cause- effect). (2) be able to use moral reasoning and ethics to assess group behavior and desired end goals. (3) possess skills (theory-based) needed to manage group dynamics specific to each area of non- clinical practice.

6 Non-Clinical Groups Theories From Sociology Five major theories from sociology provide information on the dynamics of non-clinical groups: (1)Structure-Functional theory: Socialization to law and order; conformity to rules and norms; social stratification; group pressure to go along (2) Symbolic Interaction theory: Social and reference group identity; cultural pluralism; tolerance for difference; inter-group dynamics the meaning of things.

7 Non-Clinical Groups Theories from Sociology (3) Power-Conflict theory: Rule, empowerment, advocacy, social activism/organizing, challenge and disruption to the status quo, use of group power; dominance-submission, oppression (4) Social Exchange Theory: Transactions between individuals and between individuals and organizations are regulated by threats of loss or promises of gain between the parties.

8 Non-Clinical Groups Theories from Sociology (5) Management Theories: Scientific, bureaucratic and human relations – such theories guide agency administration and workforce productivity and morale.

9 Non-Clinical Groups Moral Philosophy: Theories Five major perspectives from moral philosophy provide value-based guidance to understanding group dynamics: (1)Common good/Public square vs. individual or private morality and minority rights (2)Deontological vs. Teleological reasoning (3)Analysis of group purpose vs. consequences (4)Analysis of group goals and means (5)Theories of Social Justice: Egalitarianism, Utilitarianism, Libertarianism, Contractarianism.

10 Non-Clinical Groups Socio-Political Thought Political theories on forms of governance also guide practitioners in their work with non- clinical groups: (1)Forms of governance: Totalitarianism, anarchy, kingdom, monarchy, democracy, socialism (1)Political thought: Conservative, liberal, socialist, other

11 Goals Of Non-Clinical Groups Policy-Advocacy Practice: social goals; the use of groups to bring about social reform. Management Practice: work goals; groups are used to accomplish tasks within agencies. Advocacy Practice: social action goals: use of small and large groups to bring about structural societal change. Community Practice: Cohesion/tolerance: practitioners intervene with inter-group dynamics to promote tolerance and solidarity.

12 Historical Perspective Non-Clinical Groups Settlement House Roots: (1)Settlement house workers engaged in activist research and community advocacy to identify and ensure that the needs of all members of the community were met; subpopulation groups (2)Settlement house workers responded to population shifts, immigrant populations and those groups that experienced discrimination and poverty.

13 Historical Perspective Continued (3) Settlement house workers educated community members in participatory democracy; citizen groups. (4) Settlement house workers provided opportunities for skill acquisition and leisure pursuits to build community; community groups (5) Settlement house workers believed in the power of small groups to problem-solve social issues on the local level.

14 Large Groups Social Goals - Social Action Social workers have been involved in major social reform/social change efforts. Examples: civil rights movement, labor movement, feminist movement, welfare rights movement, gay rights movement and the environmental movement. Social work has close ties to the Peace Corps, Vista, Community Action Programs and the War on Poverty.

15 Use Of Groups For Social Justice Social workers have engaged in social policy advocacy and reform. Social workers have variously supported or protested against armed conflict here and abroad. Social workers have raised consciousness about issues of social justice. Social workers have challenged the status quo and discriminatory institutional practices

16 Community Practice Inter-group Dynamics Courses on inter-group dynamics became a dominant part of the social work curriculum targeting racism (and other isms) in the 1980s. CSWE made content on cultural diversity an accreditation standard. Controversy exists to date, on whether such courses should be taught didactically or experientially. Schools and the workplace, including the military, often require participation in sensitivity training groups.

17 Management Practice The Organization as a Group Groups (task, committees, project teams, deliberative meetings) facilitate the work of agencies. Organizations are, themselves, group entities. Organizational dynamics are group dynamics.

18 Typology of Groups in Management Practice Administrative functions are performed by: 1. Boards, cabinets 2. Deliberative meetings 3. The organization as an entity Division of Labor 1. Task groups 2. Project teams 3. Committees

19 Boards and Cabinets Composition Social exchange theory informs the creation and use of boards and cabinets. Members are recruited and appointed to serve on the basis of their: a) political or social influence b) ability to raise funds/contribute financially c) representation of a constituent group d) possession of needed expertise.

20 Boards and Cabinets Tasks Provide agency with high profile support Make agencies attractive to potential donors Make agencies valuable in the exchange of social and political influence. Provide administrative oversight to agency executives and directors. Positive publicity adds to the prestige of board members and agency alike (reciprocity of exchange).

21 Management Practice The Meeting Meetings are the most common form of group used in all areas of social work practice Good meetings are rare. Conveners and attendees alike may be suspicious of the process and outcome of meetings. Two types of meetings: (1) Informational (2) Deliberative- collective decision-making

22 Management Practice Deliberative Meeting All organizations call meetings where some members are expected to participate in collective decision-making on actionable items as part of legitimized shared governance. Such meetings are referred to as deliberative. Meetings go through group stages.

23 Deliberative Meetings Beginnings The beginning stage of a deliberative meeting: (1) Requires a quorum to do business (2) Robert’s Rules of Order- govern interactive procedures and provide mechanism (majority or 2/3rds vote) for validating group decisions. (3) Chair calls meeting to order.; an agenda is distributed and approved; minutes of the previous meeting are read, amended, and approved

24 Meetings-Beginnings Continued Agenda items should be manageable within the timeframe allowed. The first item on the agenda should not be controversial. The beginning stage of a deliberative meeting can be used to divert or delay the substantive work of the group; Meetings can get stuck in the beginning stage. Most work occurs in the middle stage. Any stage of a meeting can be manipulated for personal or political gain.

25 Organizational Problem-Solving Shared Governance The deliberative meeting is the forum of shared governance. Often such meetings become the forum for the enactment of organizational politics. If the group dynamics of deliberative meetings are not properly managed, procedural tactics can undermine governance and disfranchise members.

26 Organizational Politics The Deliberative Meetings When organizational politics are at play: Discussion is scripted and votes for or against action items have already been counted. The meeting is a “presentation” (Goffman) of decisions reached outside the designated forum for shared governance. Participants have aligned (social exchange theory) with power bases seeking a pre-determined outcome.

27 Collective Responsibility The Deliberative Meeting Organizational politics, though effective, undermines legitimate collective authority and responsibility. Bad process may lead to poor outcome or sabotaged implementation. Groups (leaders and followers) can choose to base collective decision-making on empirical evidence, open discourse, and value analysis.

28 The Deliberative Meeting Common Good Groups can choose to use their collective power to advance the common good over personal or subgroup gain. Complete & undistorted facts are presented. Opposing views (ideology) are presented in well- argued position papers. When values guide desired end goals, moral argument is used to advance a higher moral order.

29 Benchmarks Collective Responsibility Benchmarks of shared governance, collective responsibility and collective decision-making 1. Respect for dissent 2. Compromise for the sake of consensus 3. Rational discourse-facts, argument, logic, evidence 4. Moral analysis of value or ideological positions 5. No pre-determined outcome based on misuse of power; avoidance of organizational politics;

30 Meeting Analysis Power vs. Governance Analysis of the following variables helps determine whether power or governance is at play: 1. Physical setting 2. Agenda 3. Procedural rules 4. Membership

31 Physical Setting Meetings Analysis of the physical setting examines where the meeting is being held: 1. Regularly scheduled time and place within the organization 2. At a retreat 2. Someone’s office 3. Outside of work; someone’s home 4. Over lunch, dinner, drinks Is the setting designed to co-opt? to work?

32 Membership Inclusion/Exclusion Is the meeting formal or informal? Who is included/excluded? When meetings are informal, is the lunch group, exercise group, socialization group. a “cover” to form and enforce a power alliance?

33 Analysis of the Agenda Analysis of the Agenda offers clues to power vs. governance: 1.Who can place an item on the agenda? 2.Is the agenda confined to “safe” issues? 3.Who determines the order of items on the agenda? 4.Are items “accidentally” left off?

34 Procedural Rules Discourse 1.Are items discussed in principle with the absence of details thereby allowing the administrator freedom to do whatever s/he wishes. 2.Are procedural rules used to prevent sufficient time to deliberate the issues? 3.Are procedures used to defer decisions to other bodies?

35 Procedural Rules Discourse-Continued 4. If deferred, is committee membership unbalanced favoring one position over another e.g. composed to assure a pre-determined outcome? 5. Are procedural rules used to block dissenting viewpoints? See chapter 7: Dynamics of leaders & followers See discussion of the virtue of deliberation later in this chapter under community practice.

36 Management & Work Task Groups and Project Teams Small groups are used within organizations to perform work. Organizations rely on project teams, committees, and task groups to divide the work load. A task may be an instruction, perceived concern or perceived opportunity

37 Task Group Product and Process Task performance requires a tangible product and a process. To be productive, work needs to be structured and follow a timeline. The goal of a project or task group leader is to manage the socio-emotional needs of individuals so that group members work cooperatively to produce a quality product or service in a timely manner.

38 Task Groups Composition Most task groups, committees, and project teams mirror top-down bureaucracy or political alliances; such composition defeats their purpose. The premise underlying the use of such groups in the workplace is to flatten bureaucracy, thereby allowing diverse talent and leadership to emerge. Coverdale offers a systematic approach to structuring the work of task groups.

39 Coverdale Model Goals Goals: (1)facilitate cooperation (2)maximize the use individual talent within task groups (3)ownership and by-in of the product or service

40 Coverdale Model Composition Composition: (1)Conceptualizers; big picture or idea people- clarify task, set goals, determine standards, envision final product (2)Planners: attend to detail; determine who will do what, when, and in what order, monitor timeline (3)Organizers: determine and secure needed resources (4) Workers: doers; perform the work

41 Coverdale Composition Discord Potential discord is possible when task group members are too similar or too dissimilar. Members possessing the same skills often compete with each other for power Members who are too dissimilar perceive each other as liabilities to the process and product of the group.

42 Dissimilarity Conceptualizers: find planners and organizers too detailed Planners and organizers find conceptualizers too abstract Workers (doers) complain that planners, conceptualizers,and organizers are “all talk” and no action. Planners, organizers, and conceptualizers find that doers rush to action without a well-thought out plan or needed resources.

43 Work Group Competency Social workers must possess the skill to intervene in the dynamics of task groups so that the diverse work talents of all members can be utilized to benefit the organization as a whole. Despite the prevalence of task groups, most individuals are reluctant to work in groups because of the risks it entails.

44 Work Groups Risks If a group lacks diverse talents, the group is unlikely to produce a quality product or service. If the project manager or team leader cannot manage the dynamics of similarity and diversity within the group, the process will fail and members will decline to work together cooperatively. Individuals are always at-risk when group dynamics govern the behavior of members.

45 The Organization A Group Entity An organization is a large group composed of smaller subgroups. Organizations must engage in problem- solving deliberations and governance related to the organizational environment. Organizations permit members to influence its policies and procedures to some extent.

46 Organizational Dynamics It is critical to have a clear delineation of who has the authority and power to develop or change organizational policies. Hierarchical organizations (businesses) hand down decisions made at the top with minimal input (if any) from those lower in the chain of the command. Organizations with shared governance (partners, tenured faculty, senior management) make decisions in accord with a participatory process.

47 Dissent Within Organizations Those who disagree with management decisions in a hierarchical organization have the option of going along or moving along. Dissent in organizations with shared governance and collective responsibility is more complex. Collective governance obligates the organization and its members to approach problem solving with an open mind (rational deliberation) and a participatory process that is not corrupted by organizational politics.

48 Sources of Organizational Discontent Competing interests of actors within and outside the organization Irreconcilable differences over positions and prerogatives Differences over deeply held values and beliefs related to organizational goals and programs. Polarization within the organization caused by those who seek to exercise and enhance their own power.

49 Solutions Organizational Dynamics See chapter seven on leaders and followers. See Coverdale as a model to manage the dynamics of work groups. Refer to management theories discussed earlier in this chapter and in chapter seven.

50 Community Groups Definition A community is a political entity and a social web of moral values and shared meanings. A community is a large group composed of many smaller groups. Group dynamics apply to the community as a whole as well as to the relationship between subgroups within the community and between these subgroups and the community as a whole.

51 Community Functions (Kirst-Ashman and Hull (2000) All communities perform 5 functions: 1.Socialization-transmission of values, culture, beliefs, & norms to members 2.Resource allocation-the distribution of goods and services to community members 3.Social Control –enforcement of community norms through laws, ordinances, and a police force 4.Support-formal and informal sources of aid

52 Community Functions (Kirst-Ashman and Hull (2000) 5. Socializing opportunities-opportunities to participate in activities to enhance the quality of community or group life. Psychology: All humans have a basic need for group connectedness and shared values. Sociology: Communities are necessary for survival of the individual.

53 7 Typologies of Communities Typology One A. Geographical communities (Physical spaces) B. Functional communities (professional membership, religious affiliation, etc. ) C. Reference group communities (defined by socio-demographics- race, gender, ethnicity) Typology Two A. Homogeneous communities (Melting pot) B. Heterogeneous communities (Pluralistic)

54 Typologies of Communities Continued Typology Three (Fowler, 1995) A. Communities of Ideas (formal documents or emotion-based B. Communities of Crisis (formed to overcome social or ecological crises) C. Communities of Memory (traditional values) Typology Four A. Particularistic or Tribal communities B. Universalistics or Global communities

55 Typologies of Communities Continued Typology Five A. Priority on the Common Good B. Priority on Individual & Minority Rights Typology Six A. Community as the Public Square B. Community as Protector of the Right to Privacy Typology Seven A. Community as State Laws and Regulations B. Community as Protector of Civil Rights

56 Social Bonds Relationship: Individual/Community The relationship between the individual and the community is nuanced; both mutually supportive and tensed (Etizioni, 1995). All communities face problems they must solve; primary among which are: 1. Composition ( inclusion/exclusion) 2. Collective governance and decision- making

57 Human Nature and Society Assumptions Some hold that humans are basically good and reasonable and should determine the direction of the collectivity- Consistent with liberal socio- political thought.Individual over the group Others perceive the individual as impulsive and irrational and in need of social control through laws and instilled community values. Group over the individual.

58 Social Work Falck: takes exception to the idea that the end-goal of client self-determination is individual autonomy (independence); all decisions are social in nature and have consequences for everyone. Social workers walk the line between client rights and the common good.

59 The Common Good Etizioni Tension is inherent in the quest for community (order/chaos) Tyrannical possibilities of community must be weighed against the anarchical danger of desiccation of community. As a communitarian Etizioni argues for renewed commitment to public virtues and social institutions

60 Determining Community Values Moral Scrutiny Etizioni focuses on how communities determine their value commitments. Etizioni prioritizes the common good over that of the private good but tempers it with a call for value scrutiny. Even if a community follows a consensus building process, Etizioni holds that such values must to scrutinized against a universalistic ethic.

61 Traditional Communities A Universalistic Ethic Traditional, value-based communities may be authoritarian and oppressive leading to particularistic evils such as intolerance, group egotism, and atavism. All community-values need to be scrutinized against a universalistic ethic (core or overarching values). Value scrutiny can occur only within a democracy where normative value exploration is condoned.

62 Argument Against A Universalistic Ethic: Rorty In contrast to Etizioni, Rorty, a post- modernist, argues that all communities are locally constructed and non-privileged. Where there is group consensus, he argues, the values of the group are appropriately moral. Etizioni takes sharp leave from this position

63 Value-Exploration The Role of Democracy Understanding the role of democracy in value exploration is fundamental to the study of community values. Gutmann (1995): community values must not violate two cardinal principles of democracy: 1. Non-discrimination- equal moral and political standing of all 2. Non-repression – ensures civil liberties and participatory deliberation

64 Constitutional Democracy Individual and Minority Rights Under a constitutional democracy (compared to a simple democracy) some rights (Bill of Rights) are declared out of bounds for the rule of the majority. Some matters are exempt from consensus building. To safeguard against majoritarianism, the tilt in America is toward a civil society rather than state rule.

65 Democracy’s Three Virtues: To safeguard against majoritarianism, a constitutional democracy relies on 3 virtues: 1. Deliberation 2. Non-repression 3. Non-discrimination

66 Deliberation All communities must engage in discourse to create the common ground needed to solve social problems To the extent that discourse is deliberative (leads to action) the standard of reasonableness applies. Pluralistic composition requires that all citizens be given the means of addressing & deciding public issues even in the face of deep disagreement.

67 Deliberation Continued In dialectical fashion, deliberation generates such virtues as honesty, tolerance, and non-violence. As a positive virtue, deliberation is complemented by two other necessary virtues: (1) non-repression (2) non-discrimination. When the powerful “thwart” honest deliberation, “soft despotism”crowds out alternative opinions and subverts democratic participation in collective governance.

68 Non-Repression Active Liberty As a positive virtue, non-repression requires the assurance and cultivation of the capacity for political deliberation among community members. Citizens come together in a town meeting based on the expectation that reasonable people will deliberate to reach an agreed upon course of action. (Breyer, 2005) The rights of citizens are balanced by their obligation to responsibly shape and play a role in their public institutions.

69 Non-Repression Ordered Liberty Less optimistic about the capacity of humans to engage in evidence-based and morally reasoned decisions, Etizioni holds that social mores assist emotionally-driven, impulsive, and self-interested individuals arrive at a decisions; common good. The rule of law and socialization to community values, guide community decision-making. Without such rules and social moorings, individuals lose their capacity to reason or act morally.

70 Inter-group Dynamics Tavistock and Sensitivity Training The goal directed activity of social work community practice is to increase tolerance for the rights of all subgroups. Social workers are obligated to intervene in the harmful dynamics of social groups. Tavistock is an experiential learning tool that allows participants to learn about group dynamics by studying their own group process. Sensitivity training is a group process designed to combat “isms” by raising personal awareness.

71 Managing the Harmful Dynamics of Social Groups Recognize that harmful group dynamics are occurring Retain individual identity when a member of a group Retain individual moral compass when in group; evaluate morality of proposed actions; state position; opt out if necessary. Hold the group collectivity responsible for its actions by raising moral discourse.

72 Social Goals Organizing Why: The purpose of organizing groups is to build a better society and to empower the disfranchised. How: Organizing seeks to alter the relations of power though campaigns: 1. Election campaign 2. Educational campaign 3. Fund raising campaign 4. Issue campaign

73 Campaigns Incremental Change A campaign refers to a series of organized events such as photo opportunities, actions, public hearings, accountability hearings, negotiations and media events. Events are extended over a period of time and are designed to achieve a specific outcome. Campaigns exercise power by exerting pressure on administrators, bureaucrats, or regulators,; by conducting boycotts or by pursuing legal or regulatory processes to win.

74 Social Action Goals Direct Action Organizing Unlike community practice where groups are used to build tolerance and cohesion, the use of groups in direct action organizing is to disrupt the equilibrium of the status quo. Small and large groups are used tactically to create instability and provoke conflict; polarizing. Organizing harnesses the power of groups (strength-in-numbers) to bring about structural change within an existing social order.

75 Group Power and Social Justice “Good” persons operating within a group context can and do harm other “good” people. Group power may lead to a different social order but does not, in and of itself, lead to a higher moral order. Social workers must understand and control the dynamics of social groups. Polarizing and demonizing (Us-Them) is neither an explanation nor an intervention for bad group process.


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