Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Ginette Lafreniere

Advisor Role

Thesis Advisor

Second Advisor

Dr. Eliana Suarez

Advisor Role

Committee Member


This thesis presents a qualitative study on the experiences and perceptions of Ontario social workers who were candidates for municipal elected office in the 2018 Ontario municipal elections. The author sought to understand the contributing factors these social workers perceive led to them seeking elected office, whether social justice was a motivating factor, and whether these social workers believe that their social work education prepared them for seeking elected office. I interviewed ten social workers and used thematic analysis, grounded in feminist theories and Verba et al.’s (1995) Civic Voluntarism Model to analyze transcripts. Participants discussed determining relationships, becoming a social worker, catalysts, the political landscape, skills and strategies, and deepening the political identity of social work. Discussion identified numerous factors that participants perceive as contributing to their political journeys, with emphasis on relationships and networks, and an invitation to political involvement, as well as identifying the common experience of external motivating factors that compel political action, and the transferable skillsets gained through social work education. Findings are particularly relevant to social work professional associations and schools of social work. Recommendations emphasize strategies and research that will help better understand the extent of social workers’ participation in Canadian electoral politics, and strategies to normalize and encourage greater levels of engagement among social workers.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Social Work Commons