Foundations of feminist social work practice: The changer and the changed are one

Mary Ann Bricker-Jenkins, Fordham University


The purpose of this study is to identify, describe, and analyze the key dimensions of an approach to social work practice that is emerging from the efforts of feminist social workers to reconcile and integrate their feminist perspectives and commitments with their practice theories and methods. As a model-development dissertation, it contributes to the early development of a practice model by organizing and setting forth the generic themes and concepts identified in the work of a diverse group of feminist practitioners from a variety of settings performing a range of functions. The work is based on systematic content analysis of nearly 100 hours of taped telephone interviews conducted in 1984 and 1985 with a purposive sample of 23 practitioners who identified themselves as feminists. This primary data base was supplemented by an analysis of 10 years of periodical literature on the topic. The protocols and data analysis procedures of "grounded theory" were used in this study to guide and systematize the discovery process. The results of the analysis are presented in the form of ten propositions and assumptions that appear to inform the work of the practitioners and to constitute the foundation of an emergent practice system. Defined and illustrated are distinctive propositions and assumptions relating to each of the three major components of a practice model: basic philosophy, values and goals; human behavior and the social environment; and practice theory, methods, and techniques. While the models and methods of these practitioners have evolved from their unique analysis and experience with gender-based oppression and its effects, they are consonant with the traditional values and social justice commitments of the profession. Moreover, they represent an attempt to integrate individual and sociopolitical transformation processes in theory, structure, and method. As such, the work of these practitioners is potentially instructive in all social work endeavors.

Subject Area

Social work

Recommended Citation

Bricker-Jenkins, Mary Ann, "Foundations of feminist social work practice: The changer and the changed are one" (1989). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9015943.