Feminist Theory and Empowerment Theory

Week 7: Feminist Theory and Empowerment Theory

Social workers often confront issues pertaining to marginalization, social inequality and inequities, disparities, discrimination, and deprivation of human rights with individuals, groups, and communities. Theories that directly address these issues include, but are not limited to, feminist theory and empowerment theory. The underlying values of these theories emphasize reducing the hierarchy or power differentials between groups (for example, between client and social worker or between residents and those who hold power in a community).

Oppression can occur within certain groups that have traditionally been marginalized. These groups might include women; racial minorities; those from low socioeconomic brackets; religious groups; and gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals. Feminist theory and empowerment theories outline principles, skills, behaviors, and interventions for social workers to engage social action that promotes empowerment, equality, and inclusion.

This week, you explore how feminist theory and empowerment theory are applicable in social work practice.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Summarize the major assumptions of feminist and empowerment theories
  • Relate the underlying principles and values of feminist and empowerment theories to the core values and ethical principles of the NASW Code of Ethics
  • Apply feminist and empowerment theories to social work practice
  • Evaluate the strengths and limitations of feminist and empowerment theories for social work practice

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