Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


A Case Study of the Passage of Social Work Licensure in Michigan


School of Social Work


College of Community and Public Service

Date Range



Policy-making is a complex process characterized by conflict and consensus building to achieve policy change (Lindblom, 1959; True, 1999; True, 2000). Historically, the social work profession is committed to the delivery of policy informed services to those in need (Colebatch, 2006; Figueira-McDonough, 1993; Gal & Weiss, 2000; Greene & Knee, 1996; Hoefer, 2005; Linhhorst, 2002; Pearlmutter, 2002; Schneider & Netting, 1999). Today, the profession is challenged to advance its mission of social justice in the context of devolution policy that contributes to an erosion of public funding for public and private social services (Gronbjerg & Salamon, 2002). For social workers engaged in policy-practice, understanding the dynamics of policy change can only enhance understanding and subsequent effectiveness when involved in policy advocacy. This case study examines Punctuated Equilibrium Theory and the Advocacy Coalition Framework from the political science literature for their interpretation of the passage of social work licensure in Michigan. The passage of MI PA 61 of 2004 demonstrates the ability of the profession to influence the passage of legislation through the formation of alliances and the mobilization of groups to elect a new governor supportive of social work licensure. The study may provide social workers a theoretical foundation for understanding how critical events over a decade or more may influence the passage of legislation. Also, the case study may demonstrate the significance of the participation of social work in electoral politics as a strategy to influence public policy.

Conference Name

Annual Program Meeting (APM)

Conference Location

Atlanta, GA

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