Define: this theory asserts that “there is a disadvantaged (often oppressed) segment of the population that needs to be organized” (Zastrow, 2006, p. 298). Therefore, social justice needs to be employed in order to assist the community system in challenging the power structure.
Apply: communities may experience various sources of oppression; in which case, it is role of the worker to function as an activist, ado vacate, or broker in order to determine the appropriate services or intervention. It is important to understand what the community needs, rather than what leaders promote as their agenda. Communities are in various stages, and may need different strategies in order to best assist the community. For instance, after being involved with TimeBanks in Southwest Detroit, I have often wondered if this is what the Southwest Detroit community at large needs or wants? Maybe members in the community may find that they their concerns are not heard, and thus social justice may be more effective than trying to build a unified community. This may be significant as hearing the community’s concerns and mobilizing them into action may result in building community interaction.
Adapt: This is also evident when working with abused clients on an interpersonal level (micro), such as counseling. A worker’s first notion may be to begin counseling or discuss personal information pertaining to the client’s presenting problem and history, rather than ensuring that the client has had his or her basic needs met, such as safety, shelter, food, or clothing. Therefore, case management services are more likely to be necessary first, instead of intervention. Case managers will act as an advocate and broker services for the client relating to their basic needs to ensure that her or his holistic needs are met.