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Macro Systems

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The macro system is a system designed to bring change within the community. Kirst- Ashman and Zastrow (2010) states a macro orientation involves focusing on the social, political and economic conditions and policies that affect people’s overall access to resources and quality of life (p. 31). This paper will be addressing the concepts of personal, interpersonal, and political empowerment. The way individuals are involved in multiple social systems which are macro, micro, and mezzo. It will also discuss the macro system response to child maltreatment, sexual abuse and crime and delinquency, and compare and contrast the application of functionalism and interactionist theory to poverty. Lastly, it will describe the role and responsibility of the human service worker in the macro environment.

Personal, Interpersonal and Political Empowerment

The concept of personal empowerment is learning to believe in yourself. You have to know what your goals are and where you’re headed in life. Personal empowerment knows your strengths and weaknesses and knowing what you have to change about yourself to become better. Interpersonal empowerment is when one or more person get together to plan and make decisions. This could be a group or community who collaborate to decide what is the best plan for them as a whole. Political empowerment is where the government works to help the community and promote political participation. Political empowerment could be giving a voice to those who might not have one, such as the poor or a particular ethnic group.

Macro, Micro, and Mezzo

Social work is divided into three categories: macro, micro, and mezzo. These three systems sometimes overlap and influence each other. The macro system in social work attempts to help the community on a larger scale. This might be changing legislation for better health care or fighting for better wages for women. The micro system works with the individual to help with their problems. Kirst-Ashman and Zastrow (2010) state a micro orientation to social work practice involves focusing on an individual’s needs, problems and strengths (p. 31). This type of social work involves helping people find jobs, health care, and housing. The third system is mezzo. The mezzo system deals with working with medium sized groups such as neighborhoods, schools, and even families. This type of work could be helping children in school groups learn about the dangers of drugs or helping families cope with a teen on drugs.

The Macro System

The macro system deals with the social, political and economic conditions that affect the community at whole. The macro system is involved in child maltreatment, sexual abuse, crime, and delinquency. Their response is to let child protection services handle these cases while working closely with a social worker and the police. According to Kirst-Ashman and Zastrow (2010) CPS workers are usually employed by the state or county public agencies whose designated task it is to protect children from harm (p. 207). Child protective service workers work with the family courts to try and provide a safe place for the children. They also try and help the parents with treatment plans to help solve the problems they have so that they can hopefully establish the children back with their family.

The report of sexual abuse is also a serious issue. Sexual abuse is defined as any sexual activity with a child where consent is not or could not be given. The macro response to sexual abuse is prevention. Preventing sexual abuse from happening in the first place is the goal of the social worker. This is done by teaching children about their bodies and what are a good touch and a bad touch. Kirst-Ashman and Zastrow (2010) state that a life event or social problem frequently experienced in adolescence is crime or delinquency (p. 350). Young people commit the most crimes in our society. They could be arrested and tried as an adult and sent to prison as punishment or tried in a juvenile court.

Functionalism and Interactionist Theory

According to Dale, Smith, Norlin and Chess (2009) functional theory also called structural-functionalism, views society as a complex system of interlocking institutions (p. 31). The functionalist perspective views that all parts of society have a function. Functionalists believe that poverty has two primary functions. First that it acted as a motivator and seen as a warning. This would help people to work harder so that they would not end up in poverty. Secondly poverty helps to balance out society. Poverty exists so that certain functions are met by poor people like jobs no one else wants. Dale, Smith, Norlin and Chess (2009) state symbolic interactionism is a sociological theory that addresses the interactions between the individual and society (p. 36). This means that people behave based on what they believe is true and not necessarily what is objectively real. The poor are judged negatively by wealthier people. So they start to believe what is being said and settle for a life of poverty. Poverty becomes a state of mind and not just a situation that they could improve with help.

Role and Responsibility of the Human Service Worker in the Macro Environment

The human services worker plays a large role in the macro environment. Hill, Ferguson and Erickson (2010) state macro practice social work is aimed at bringing about improvements and changes in the largest of these systems in society (p. 514). The role of a human service provider is one of many. They are to provide assistance to those who are in need. The human service worker will be engaged in policy practice and social change. Their roles vary as advocates for their community and state. The responsibilities of the human service worker are to identify the systems that need changing and help to bring about the change that is needed. Such as domestic violence awareness programs or child abuse prevention. It is a human service workers job to help those in the community and bring about effective change for those who live and work there.


The macro system plays a large role in our community. Without this system, we would be lost in many ways. Our society would not have as much empowerment socially and politically. It would be hard to see how the three systems of macro, micro and mezzo would work within our community helping with the small to the large issues we face every day. The macro system impacts our community and our whole world in many ways. Policy and laws are made or changed due to those who work behind the scenes to help those in need. Child maltreatment and sexual abuse awareness is more prevalent due to our macro system. There are programs that are available for these issues due to human service workers who have worked to help them. Our human service providers are people that we can go to, and they will help us try and resolve our issues, whether big or small.


Dale, O., Smith, R., Norlin, J.M., & Chess, W.A. (2009). Human Behavior and the Social
Environment: Social Systems Theory. 6th edition.

Hill, K., Ferguson, S., & Erickson, C. (2010). Sustaining and Strengthening a Macro Identity:
The association of Macro Practice Social Work. Journal of Community Practice. 18(4).

Kish-Ashman. K., & Zastrow, C. (2010). Understanding Human Behavior and the Social Environment.

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