The field of social work can be classified into three categories of practice: macro social work, mezzo social work and micro social work. These three categories determine the scope of practice for the social worker.
Macro-level social workers work at the community and systems-level, whereas mezzo-level social work focuses on neighborhoods, small groups and institutions. Micro-level work focuses on families or individuals. At times, macro-level, mezzo-level and micro-level social work overlap as individuals, small groups and larger communities often affect each other. The study of macro-level social work, therefore, is essential for anyone practicing in the fields of sociology or social work.
What Exactly is Macro Social Work?
While many social workers practice in clinic settings or have a career as a case manager or social work generalist, other social workers focus on macro-level sociology. These social workers work with large groups of people, communities, cities and major institutions. Macro-level social work does not typically involve working directly with individual clients in a patient-social worker relationship. However, the social workers may work with individual community members as part of research or interventions designed to address large-scale problems affecting the community.
In macro-level social work, practitioners may serve several roles. Leadership roles in organizations may involve leading non-profit organizations that meet community needs, such as the American Red Cross, non-profits that work with a state's foster care children, or a government agency designed to address a nation's obesity epidemic. Macro social work may also involve organizing community efforts, leading community development initiatives or planning interventions to reduce poverty, increase literacy or end human trafficking. Social workers practicing at the macro level may also be involved in advocacy and policy work, from grassroots advocacy to large-scale political lobbying.
What Career Options are Available in Macro Social Work?
Macro-level social workers may be qualified for a wide range of positions. They may be eligible to manage large national or international agencies, such as the United Way or significant government agencies. These professionals need to be able to identify needs within a community and be able to work towards change on a national or international scale. Macro-level social workers holding these director positions may be involved with issues regarding education, poverty, hunger, crime, violence or orphaned populations.
Macro-level social workers may also be involved in large-scale research. They may be charged with determining what factors are present within particular populations, such as the correlation between education levels and the rate of single unwed mothers in a Southeast Asian country. Conducting such research can assist the social work community in designing appropriate interventions in order to address the significant issues affecting the community.
When many people think of social work, they picture a practitioner working directly with a client, such as a social worker interviewing a family hoping to adopt a child. However, social work also occurs on a much larger scale in order to address significant issues within a community, country or even the world as a whole. Macro-level social work is essential in helping communities identify needs, design interventions and implement strategies designed at improving the quality of life for all individuals within that community.
From political lobbying to leading major non-profit organizations, researching the cause of high rates of abandoned or orphanages children and designing community initiatives aimed at improving early childhood literacy rates, macro social work is an important area of practice with the goal of creating functional and healthy communities.