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Comparative Analysis Of Theories And Models Of Practice In Advocacy And Social Change

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In the modern world of research, numerous individual has come out to increase the depth of studies conducted previously regarding the diverse areas of study in the world currently. Among the many areas of study, socioeconomics has become a core area of research mainly due to its application in the everyday lives of people around the globe. Additionally, society and economics are heavily linked primarily because the efficient functioning of society relies on a healthy economy (Wilks, 2012). Based on this, numerous studies and theories have been forwarded in the field practising advocacy for social change and social actions pertinent to social change. These areas of study, which have been a subject of research for decades now allow for continuous social, economic, and political development. In this light, this paper will analyze four theories on advocacy and social change, subsequently developing a comparative analysis of the respective theories. Before this, it is, however, crucial to describe the selected advocacy models and theories of social change.

Brief Description of Selected Advocacy Models

According to Stewart & MacIntyre (2019), advocacy has existed in different countries around the world for decades now, at least since countries and their citizens developed the need of improving themselves, economies, and societies among other core facets of human life. Consequently, advocacy takes different forms and also has different characteristics but the base line is that there are five models of advocacy used in research. For this essay, self-advocacy and peer advocacy will be selected in undertaking a comparative analysis of the same.

In simple terms, self-advocacy can be defined as an approach used by an individual in addressing various social, economic or political issues affecting their living. An example of self-advocacy in work is when a student issues a request to have more books available to them in a library for better studies. Self-advocacy is therefore based on personal interests or grievances with the purpose of improving personal wellbeing among other personal rights. This approach is developed over time and involves self-discovery whereby an individual comes in terms with his or her social needs. After this, the individual masters the courage to address the issues that he or she faces. Through this, therefore, self-advocacy comes in handy. This attitude mostly involves individuals’ personal initiatives and not influence from any forces,

On the other hand, peer advocate as a model of social advocacy refers to individuals, usually of the same background or who share a common grievance join forces to seek improvement of specific social, economic or political issues affecting them. It, therefore, means that peer advocacy is done collectively by a group of people sharing a common problem. Circumstances dictate the approach individuals take and what decisions they make. Peer advocacy apart from being a collective approach, is dictated by the circumstances the individuals undergo so as to give them the motivation to fight for their interests. These circumstances are what calls for change.

Comparative Analysis of Self-Advocacy and Peer Advocacy Models

According to Stewart & MacIntyre (2019), self and peer advocacy are widely different mainly because they address personal and group issues respectively. It, therefore, follows that self-advocacy is designed for individuals to address personal issues affecting their social, economic or any other spheres of life (Wilks, 2012). This means that the model is not adequate for improving specific issues facing people in a given society. Peer advocacy, on the other hand, is designed to create a platform for individuals, sharing a common background or problem in their society join forces to remedy the same.

Focusing on a trending Brexit debate, British citizens in different parts of the country have joined forces lobbying the government and politicians supporting Brexit not to leave the EU, given the expected social and economic issues associated with the leave. It, therefore, follows that unlike self-advocacy, the model of peer advocacy allows for balanced power among individuals in solving specific issues affecting their living. Consequently, due to the collaborative power in this model, it is more effective in addressing a common problem affecting people.

Theories of Social Change

Traditionally, societies have been dynamic primarily because peoples’ needs have an evolutionary nature. In this way, it is key that people living in different societies across the world change their environments based on prevailing needs and or problems affecting their living. With respect to this, sociologists developed five models of social action (Arbor, 2015). For this comparative analysis, the Economic and Conflict theories of social change will be used.

According to Arbor (2015), the economic theory of social change is heavily embedded in Marxist views of global societies and economies. The theory is based on the fundamental premise that an economic change in a society or country is the most critical source of desired societal changes. The model advocates for continued changes in political, ideological, legal and religious infrastructural systems in a said society with the goal of establishing a platform for continued economic improvements in the face of a specific social problem. According to Marx, religion and its manifestations, morality and the different social structures all depend on economics. The manner people choose to worship is based on their views, Calvinists, for instance, are capitalists. There is a direct relationship between economics and social aspects which implies that in order to achieve social change then economics need to be considered as well. Further, Marx argues that the efficient change in what measure is that which encompasses both the social and economic aspects.

On the other hand, the Conflict theory of social change revolves around the idea that all societies must function as a unit. In this way, social integration leads to conflict between individuals, and or groups of people in a given society when faced by a common issue (Wilks, 2012). Consequently, this theory was developed on the premise that societies function as a unit and as such their members must from time to time disagree on changes required to improve their social, political and economic environments. Change according to this theory, is based on interactions. Human beings being social by nature cannot avoid change as their interactions in one way or another cause this. Life is a competition characterized by daily efforts to distribute resources and power. Additionally, persons deserve equality, and this is sought by them. Through this, there is a motivation for social change.

Critical Analysis of the Economic and Conflict Theories of Social Change

Analyzing the two approaches to sparking change in a given society, it is clear that both theories focus on the same issues, namely the social, political and economic issues affecting groups of people. Unlike the conflict theory, however, the Economic theory takes a broad approach in describing that all changes required in a given society are related to the state of its economy. As such, it can be inferred that the economic theory focuses on creating social actions to improve the state of an economy with the broad goal of supporting changes in other social spheres (Wilks, 2012). Notably, this theory is more effective in creating impetuses for social changes primarily because all social changes in the modern world are dependent on economic welfare. For example, using the Brexit issue affecting a significant number of British national presently, it is evident that the conflict theory of social change cannot suffice in bringing about the desired social changes is the political move is to pass.

The economic theory can, however, be adequate in establishing effective social, political and economic infrastructures if the British people are to remain sustainable in their societal and economic this way. it can be argued that the economic model of social change is more effective and practical in developing social actions need to bring about the diverse changes people in different countries across the globe continue to seek in the face of different problems. This is primarily because any broad social action is heavily dependent on the economic welfare of a society, as opposed to the level of integration described as the precursor to bringing about social changes in the Conflict theory of social change.

The economic sanction model is characterized by elites gaining control over social, economic and political weapons to gain access and derive benefits from the society (Armitage, 1996). The elites gain control over the country’s resources and at the same time using it as a direct threat to obtain unmerited benefits from clientele.

Nonetheless other models of social action as legislative model depicted a process where elites conducted studies of the extend, gravity and urgency of problems while creating public opinion and various lobby groups aimed at modifying the social policy (Barker, 1994). The general population and various target groups are directly not involved in this process. They invest in lobbying and other key activities aimed at achieving significant benefits from a given segment while preventing maladies from affecting their world or clientele as well as removing issues hindering this growth. The elites in turn set up their commission with a vested interest and conduct research or studies on the extent, and urgency of the issue. They chalk out our feasible and, scientific interventions, pursue lobbying and create public interventions. (Berman-Rossi, 1988) Upon finalizing this process, the elites discuss the matter with Ministers and concerned officials while persuading them to implement appropriate interventions.

The Dialectical mobilization based on conflict model helps in promoting conflicts and misunderstandings in order to exploit various contradictions in a given system as well as the belief that various intervention will finally emerge. Dialectic model is an art of key logical disputation. This process involves a thesis or initial propositions which generates counter propositions as well as rational context. When two people or groups take up such extreme positions with a heated argument, the position of one side can be described as a thesis while the other as antithesis (Berg, 1995). The posing contradictory positions aimed at reaching consensus is usually termed as dialectics and actionist who usually follow this process take the logical path to the ontological. It’s based on the assumption that forces in human institutions and nature clash and develop. In turn, every social force and institution in itself is actually an element of its disintegration (Day, 1970). They are able to expose key contradictions with a given system while promoting conflicts and expecting higher result in economic, social and even political structures.

Analysis and Examples of advocacy Theories in Practice

There is a huge range of models of advocacy whereby each has a distinctive characteristic which depicts a type of work, the length of its involvement and the kind of person who needs to take up this role. Although there is inadequate evidence about the efficacy of the advocacy due to lack of understanding and differing definitions about its role. Some evidence suggests that the process of advocacy ensures the voices of citizens who need the services are heard while promoting increased confidence (McNutt, 2011). Advocates need a significant skill set to actually undertake a given role effectively towards maximizing its effectiveness.

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Advocacy has existed in many countries notably the UK for the last 30 years, and it’s through this period that a range of schemes and models have emerged especially for those who access the support (Collins, 2006). The features of this advocacy include empowerment, independence from services, supporting citizens to access support, promote social justice and challenging inequality. Essentially advocacy helps people get the right information, understand their needs, rights as well as making the right choices. Advocacy is however not about counselling, mediation, befriending, giving advice, taking complaints and giving advice although these elements can be found to some degrees across various models.

Due to a lack of understanding and conflicting definitions about the role of advocacy, it’s quite difficult to also measure the overall impact of advocacy has on the impact and outcomes for people who have access support. Action for advocacy has, in turn, developed the outcome measures which has in turn been used in various research (SIAA, 2008). SIAA has continuously developed some evaluation framework aimed for advocacy by providing tools for analyzing and measuring the effectiveness of advocacy against their standards and principles.

Using this framework, the organizations can, in turn, establish the key differences which have been established, the methods of advocacy which works and develop a comparative picture of the overall achievements. People who have better access to support and have experienced advocacy depict a high level of personal satisfaction. This satisfaction, in turn, relates to the powers that advocacy has towards empowering citizens to access the support services by enabling their voices to be heard (Ward, 2009). Nonetheless, with regard to these participation, people or citizens who still access support reported to having great understanding and knowledge of key processes involved. This makes them understand the language used and their rights hence leading to such an increased sense of empowerment. This sense of empowerment, in turn, led to increased self-reporting and self-efficacy creating confidence.

Citizens who have such access support report high levels of self-satisfaction especially when they receive support or help. The provisions of this moral support have reviews as significant during formal; proceedings but sometimes it’s described as intimidating. The relational aspect of this advocacy is confusing science; it appears as a key indicator of various satisfaction levels across different advocacy provision. Peer advocacy, self-advocacy and citizen advocacy are said to offer great chance and potential towards support and promotion of social networks while building a relationship through a stable and safe environment (Carlisle, 2000). Higher levels of trust lead to higher levels of participation.

The creation and development of legislative access to advocacy have such big potential to create a two-tier form of support system. The individuals under mental health legislation or compulsory measures are likely to access advocacy. Rather unintended effect of this would probably be the promotion of social networks and social inclusion. However, in peer advocacy and citizen advocacy similar concerns actually, exist. The difficulties which have been documented relating to peer advocates include lack of confidence to actually undertake this role as well as disassociation with those who possess similar label due to fear of discrimination and stigma (Lawton A., 2009).

Advocates should possess a required skill, expertise and skill level in order to outperform their role and be taken seriously. For those under volunteer advocacy or self-advocacy, they should develop appropriate training and support. This can be a challenge on organizations which are mainly dependent on any short term funding. There is usually tensions between representing individual views and empowering them towards reducing the power imbalances (Stewart, & Gillian, 2019). This imbalance is usually due to a lack of fundamental understanding of purpose and role of advocacy.

Nonetheless, there has been great issues when it comes to working with those who have complex needs of support. Various assumptions are made around the capability and capacity of those who access these support and make decisions. Self-advocacy hence has huge potential to challenge these assumptions by stressing on control and choice of those who access these support (Arbor, 2015). However, these leads to complete isolation of the self-advocates basically from organizations which seek to challenge them.

The most effective advocacy needs independent and long term funding. Its always hard to deliver on advocacy principles of loyalty, independence, commitment to empowerment and justice and at the same time balancing on key obligations of a funding organization. A trusting relationship developed over time influences key participation. Familiarity, continuity and consistency is key to its success. Support and training are also paramount towards enabling advocates to develop a knowledge base, understand roles and create skill set and confidence (Dalrymple, 2011). Cultural sensitivity is important also towards providing understanding and ability to address key issues faced y significant groups.

Analysis and Examples of Social Action Theories in Practice

Social action shows a number of interventions which have been developed and directed towards a social change. These are efforts which represent key strategies which may be a target for services, change, institutions and structures which make up a given society (Harvey, 2012). It represents strategies and interventions which help towards realizing the goals and objectives of social reforms. These interventions are changes which leave the existing structures in place as well as those aimed at social transformation which alter the current social structures.

Social action can, however, be termed as contentious by challenging the status quo. Weber (1919) expressed his concern with the increasing number of social relationship and social actions based on consideration of calculations and efficiency. Durkheim’s concern was based on institutional arrangements which maintain social structure cohesion. However max vision of a given society is was also informed by the preoccupation of conflicts between productive relations and social classes within social structures (Beethham, 1985). Weber’s main focus was based on subjective meanings which various human actors always attach to their individual actions and mutual orientations.

According to Weber, the social action defined in sociology is those which men engage in goal-oriented or purposeful rational action. This rational action can be value-oriented whereby they act from affective or emotional motivations. Purposeful rationality defines both means and goal as rationally chosen and exemplified by those related means to ends. Value-oriented rationality is thus characterized by working for a substantive goal which leads to ascetic self-denial or attainment of salvation (Gidden, 1960). Affective action is also anchored in a state of actor’s emotion rather than weighing the rationality of means and ends.

Weber was concerned with a western society where the behaviour was mainly dominated by goal-oriented rationality as opposed to earlier periods where it was motivated by value-oriented rationality. Whereas the sphere of economics and politics in the realm of interpersonal relationship and law, the application of these means to end has actually become quite predominant and in turn replaced another form of social action.

During the period of great depression of 1930 which was characterized by the collapse of economy, ideological and militant ideas were greatly influence the labour struggles inspired by the communist party. The social action was based on class struggles and organized in terms of social revolution and the industrial revolution. Advocacy was also carried by key members of the working class (Advocacy, 2006).In effect, the labour or working class spoke for itself as compared with relying on the other middle-class reformers. Local interest and needs were mainly connected to broader and international concerns. However with the effects of world war and its aftermaths such as forces generated by the new deal, economic expansion and cold war hostility undermined and dampened any kind of social action.

However, after this period of civil rights movements and the war on poverty, a period of disruption and unrest was ushered which included a different form of demands which aimed at equitable distribution of state benefits. Advocacy becomes class-based, less ideological and single focused. Professionals mainly undertook this advocacy with movement groups. These movements were in the form of organized confrontations by clients and staff. Other community organizers as Saul Alinsky, developed and promoted key strategies of conflict over building coalitions and consensus (Dalrymple, 2011).

While the 1970 movement was necessitated by the oil crisis, further decay in US cities and increasing debt, there was a decision to cut entitlement and service programs. The conservative agenda was focused on changing individual’s rather economic and social institutions. It is evident that social work was influenced mainly by humanism and supported by values based on beliefs of human potential as well as models aimed at advancing knowledge through measurement and observation. In order to link these theories, paradigms, power, perspective, the manner of social action interventions and practice frameworks is based on Lincoln and Guba typology (Lawton, 2006). The paradigms of post positivity and positivity are mainly compatible with visions of the world which depict a structural functionalist and contains pluralism power relation explains the societal functioning. On the other hand, the paradigms of constructivism and critical theory represent such alternate visions characterized by elite power relations which led to critical societal structure analysis that support a structural approach to practice by utilizing social action as key strategy to social transformation (Martineau, 2010).


While considering the history of advocacy and social action in any social work, the definitions of these principles are key. Social action is based on a coordinated effort aimed at achieving institutional change, solve a problem, change a need and correct a given form of injustice. This, in turn, identifies initiators of advocacy and social action as those in social welfare, politics, economics, military and religion which can be directly influenced by a problem.

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Comparative Analysis Of Theories And Models Of Practice In Advocacy And Social Change. (2021, October 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from
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