Tobias Kindler (Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences (OST)

Topic:  Exploring Roots and Routes of Social Worker’s Policy Engagement
Language: English 


Summary: This paper presents the findings of a quantitative study that examined the policy engagement of social workers in Switzerland. The study explored the different forms and strategies (routes) social workers apply to influence social policy as well as factors affecting this type of activity.

Background: Social work is closely intertwined with policy processes in different political arenas. Despite this fact, research on the roots and routes of social workers’ policy engagement in policy is still in a nascent stage.

Research Questions: Tackling this research gap this study addressed three main research questions: (1) To what extent do social workers engage in policy? (2) What are the strategies of social workers to affect the making of social policy? (3) What factors explain the extent and strategies of social workers policy engagement?

Methods: Drawing on a quantitative cross-sectional research design, Swiss social workers were invited to participate in an online survey. The final sample consists of 1815 social workers from all 26 states of the country. Descriptive statistics, linear regression analysis and cluster analysis were used to answer the research question.

Results: The findings show that social workers are more engaged in politics than the general overall population. However, they prefer passive activities, such as voting or discussing politics, and hesitate to engage in active engagement, such as demonstrating or contacting legislators. The main influencing factors on social workers’ policy engagement are membership in mobilization networks (such as the professional association of social workers), political interest, internal political efficacy, and social work education.

Conclusions: This study illustrates how social workers can have a significant impact on policy formulation and identifies factors that affect this type of professional activity. The results of this study have implications for social work education, practice, and research that will be addressed in detail in this presentation.