Departmental Papers (SPP)

The School of Social Policy & Practice contributes to the advancement of more effective, efficient and humane human services through education, research and civic engagement. In pursuit of this mission, our theory-based masters and doctoral programs in social work, social welfare, non-profit leadership and social policy encourage students to think and work across disciplinary lines and cultures as well as across national and international boundaries. The pursuit of social justice is at the heart of the School’s knowledge-building activities. Our innovative educational and research programs reinforce our vision of active student engagement in their own learning as well as that of social agencies and larger social collectivities organized at the local, national and international levels.




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Now showing 1 - 10 of 190
  • Publication
    Falling Far from the Tree: Transitions to Adulthood and the Social History of Twentieth-Century America
    (2005-12-01) Stanger-Ross, Jordan; Collins, Christina; Stern, Mark J
    Employing the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series of the University of Minnesota, we chronicle the changing timing and duration of transitions to adulthood in the twentieth century. Successive generations of young Americans reinvented the transition to adulthood to accommodate shifts in the economy and the American state. The patterned choices of young people delineate three eras of social history in the twentieth century: the era of reciprocity (1900–1950), the era of dependence (1950–70s), and the era of autonomy (1970s-2000). We also explain why African Americans differed from the general trend; they developed distinctive transitions to adulthood in response to persistent inequality.
  • Publication
    The Role of Social Anxiety in Volunteering
    (2007-09-01) Handy, Femida; Cnaan, Ram A
    The volunteer management literature suggests that the most effective means of recruitment is personal asking. However, agencies that apply this method do not report the expected success in volunteer recruitment. Often they face the volunteer recruitment fallacy: those people assumed to be interested in volunteering do not necessarily volunteer. Based on the literature of shyness or social anxiety and on empirical observations, this article suggests that social anxiety often deters volunteering by new recruits. We hypothesize that people with greater levels of social anxiety will be less likely to volunteer. Furthermore, we hypothesize that people with high social anxiety will prefer to give monetary support to worthy causes rather than volunteer their time, and if they do choose to volunteer, they will do so alongside friends. Our hypotheses are supported based on the findings from a large-scale nonrandom sample in North America. We suggest how to avoid the volunteer recruitment fallacy by creating a personal environment in which high-social-anxiety recruits feel safe and accepted. By removing the fear of being negatively judged by strangers as they enter the agency and creating a more personal approach, new recruits may have a higher probability of becoming long-term and consistent volunteers.
  • Publication
    Education for Social Development: Curricular Models and Issues
    (1994-09-01) Estes, Richard J
    Education for social development is emerging as an important component of professional education in the human services. This paper identifies the underlying assumptions, knowledge base, and goals of social development practice. The paper also identifies four models of social development practice of relevance to the education of social workers for social development: the Personal Social Services Model; the Social Welfare Model; the Social Development Model; and, the New World Order Model. Eight levels of social development practice are identified as are the dominant institutional sectors within which development practice occurs. The paper also discusses organizational issues associated with the introduction of varying degrees of social development content into individual educational programs.
  • Publication
    Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans: What Might a Sociological Embeddedness Perspective Offer Disaster Research and Planning?
    (2008-11-01) Iversen, Roberta R; Armstrong, Annie Laurie
    The Hurricane Katrina and NewOrleans situation was commonly called a "natural disaster" - an anomalous "event" that disrupted lives, spaces, and organizations. Research and planning attention then focused on particular aspects of the event and on restoring order. In contrast, sociologists and similar-thinking scholars have increasingly viewed disaster situations from multiple locations and histories, often using systems theory. Here, reanalysis of empirical material from ethnographic research in New Orleans pre- and post-Katrina suggests that a sociological embeddedness perspective illustrates the dynamic seamlessness of past, present, and future economic contexts and social actions. The perspective's constitutive concepts of weak, strong, and differentiated ties highlight the role of local knowledge, intermediary-led workforce networks, and sustained participatory planning in creating a robust economic environment. Toward this end, disaster research, planning, and theory building could incorporate network tie assessments into social vulnerability protocols, compare embeddedness with other perspectives, and learn from related international experiences.
  • Publication
    Assessment and Social Construction: Conflict or Co-Creation?
    (2005-04-29) Iversen, Roberta R; Gergen, Kenneth J; Fairbanks, Robert P
    Assessment procedures in social work emerged within the historical context of modernist empiricism. They are lodged in assumptions of objectivity, measurement accuracy, value neutrality and scientific expertise. Within the context of postmodern constructionism, the grounds for traditional assessment are thrown into question. While such critique may seem to threaten the assessment tradition, such a conclusion is unwarranted. Rather, one may locate within the assessment tradition and constructionist writings converging lines of thought. Through the collaborative extension of two assessment exemplars — the genogram and the ecomap — we suggest new and more promising potentials for assessment practices in social work.
  • Publication
    Psychosocial and Re-Incarceration Risks Among Older Adults in Mental Health Courts
    (2014-08-01) Canada, Kelli E; Engstrom, Malitta; Jang, Eunyoung
    Objective Older adults are increasingly involved in the criminal justice system, yet there is limited research regarding their needs and experiences. This study examined differences in psychosocial experiences and reincarceration between older and younger adults with psychiatric disorders involved in the criminal justice system. Methods Participants (N = 80) were recruited from two mental health courts in the midwestern United States. Bivariate analyses examined age-related differences in psychosocial experiences and reincarceration between younger and older participants. Results Older adults, on average, experienced more treatment adherence and fewer probation violations than younger adults during the 6-month follow-up; however, they experienced comparable risk for reincarceration. Older adults' substance use, service use, housing instability, and program retention were similar to their younger counterparts. Conclusion Despite older mental health court participants' treatment adherence and reduced probation violations, they are at risk for incarceration, substance use, and housing instability.
  • Publication
    Shelters Lead Nowhere
    (1993-12-19) Culhane, Dennis P
    The city should take state and Federal financing that goes to the shelters and use it to keep people out of them.
  • Publication
    Community-based Norms about Intimate Partner Violence: Putting Attributions of Fault and Responsibility into Context
    (2005-12-03) Taylor, Catherine A; Sorenson, Susan B
    Fault and responsibility are key concepts in understanding how victims and assailants are, or are not, held accountable by society. We used a fractional factorial vignette design with a community-residing sample of 3,679 adults to examine judgments about intimate partner violence (IPV). Although fault, or causal responsibility, was assigned most often to assailants (69%), respondents assigned solution responsibility most often to both persons (52%) or to the victim alone (31%): interpersonal communication for couples (38%) and self-protective actions for victims (i.e., engaging formal authorities [12%] and/or leaving the assailant [11%]) were the most frequent suggestions. Potential injury to the victim and gender/relationship-based norms had the greatest impact on judgments. Findings may inform strategies to alter social norms regarding IPV.
  • Publication
    Using Petitions to Teach Slavery
    (2003-04-01) Freeman, Damon W
    For many years, the historical experience of slavery has occupied a unique niche in the minds of Americans. For some, the presence of enslaved Africans, while unfortunate, did not necessarily mean that American democracy was flawed (after all, they argued, American slavery was not all that bad). Others were repulsed by the institution and labeled the United States Constitution an immoral document for protecting the horrors of slavery. Regardless of their view, many Americans turned to the words and experiences of slaves themselves to support their arguments.
  • Publication
    As We Age: Current Considerations About the Elderly and Firearms
    (2012-03-01) Mertens, Brian; Sorenson, Susan B
    In the United States, more than 17 million people over the age of 65 own a firearm. They have the highest rate of suicide by a firearm, and recent data suggest that a disproportionate number apply to carry a concealed weapon. At least one new handgun has been designed and marketed with older people in mind. Memory, thinking, and judgment as well as physical and behavioral competence issues related to an elder's safe operation of a motor vehicle apply to firearms, too. Gun availability can pose a particular risk to those with dementia as well as to their caretakers. The elderly constitute a substantial and rapidly growing population/market segment for whom the public health implications of firearm production, promotion, access, ownership, and use merit consideration.