Informing State Policymakers: Opportunities for Social Workers

It sometimes happens that policy advocates try to promote a positive change but face oppression from policymakers. Various reasons can make politicians oppose proposals, but the current post focuses on how it is possible to overcome this resistance. In particular, if I were to communicate the needs of vulnerable populations, I would make sufficient effort to organize the information succinctly, consider policymakers’ personalities, and choose the appropriate persuasion technique.

In the beginning, one should admit that significant attention should be devoted to what information and how it is communicated. It means that a proposal should rely on credible and reliable data, which means that research should support every proposal. For example, if I were to promote the interests of families living in poverty, I would enrich my proposal with evidence from reputable sources. In this case, the Institute for Research on Poverty (n.d.) is a suitable resource because it focuses on the causes and consequences of poverty in the United States. It is reasonable to expect that credible information could convince policymakers to change their opinion regarding a proposed intervention. Simultaneously, Jackson-Elmoore (2005) stipulates that information should be presented in a brief and comprehensive form so that politicians can immediately understand the scope of the proposal. That is why I would allocate time and effort to structure my suggestion in an efficient manner.

The following recommendation would be to draw attention to policymakers’ personalities because scientific evidence demonstrates that politicians’ peculiarities can make a difference. For example, a study by Jackson-Elmoore (2005) found that legislators that represented minorities were less likely to use the Internet to communicate with policy advocates. Simultaneously, policymakers from communities that more significantly suffered from poverty were more likely to cooperate with ethnic associations and grassroots organizations (Jackson-Elmoore, 2005). Finally, knowing a legislator personally can also increase the probability that this policymaker will change their mind regarding the proposed service.

When it comes to the hypothetical scenario under consideration, the information above allows me to develop specific guidelines of how I might communicate with policymakers. Firstly, I would invest effort in establishing personal contact with a politician. In this process, I would rely on mutual acquaintances or participation in organizations. Secondly, I would gather support from different associations and groups to ensure that a significant part of society would be interested in my proposal. Thirdly, it would be rational to develop a unique approach to every single policymaker depending on their personal characteristics to ensure that the politician is affected in the most efficient way.

In addition to that, it is of importance to choose a suitable persuasive technique. According to Jansson (2018), policy advocates can rely on adversarial messages, coercive technique, or mutual negotiations. Each of these approaches has certain advantages and peculiarities that explain how a politician can be influenced. However, I would rely on adversarial debates because this approach seems to be highly effective. Jansson (2018) explains that this persuasive technique implies three parties, including “the persuader, the adversary, and an audience of observers” (p. 287). It means that when a policymaker does not share my views about the need for a service, I will attract public attention to my proposal to influence the legislator. The selected persuasive technique would include both personal conversation with the politician and work via social media to make more people interested in an offered intervention, which would make the policymaker change their opinion.


Institute for Research on Poverty. (n.d.). Research. 

Jackson-Elmoore, C. (2005). Informing state policymakers: Opportunities for social workers. Social Work, 50(3), 251-261.

Jansson, B. S. (2018). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social justice (8th ed.). Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning Series.

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