Linda Houser, PhD
- Director of PhD Program
- Associate Professor
- Social Justice
Programs I Teach
- Social Work (PhD)
- Social Work (MSW)
- Social Work (BSW)
- Social Work (MSW) & Human Sexuality Studies (MEd or PhD)
- PhD, Social Work (2010)
Bryn Mawr College (PA)
- MSW, Administration, Policy, and Planning (2000)
Temple University (PA)
Despite the remarkable progress we have made in a number of arenas, the individual concerns and social problems we face are remarkably persistent. I believe, however, in the potential for positive change and in the role of social workers in assisting, facilitating, and initiating such change. I began my career in direct practice with the families of young children with chronic or disabling conditions, connecting them with developmental assessments and services. Over three years of this work, I realized that as much as families needed and wanted individual and family supports and services, they were often blocked from getting such things by budget constraints, administrative deterrence, or simply lives that were already overly full. Whenever my agency brought parents together, we discovered deep veins of frustration that the professionals in their lives to date had been ill-prepared to inform them about concrete services and policies or even to equip parents to advocate for service and policy changes as a community, a constituency.
Social workers tend to be busy people, asked to be and to do a great many things at a great many levels of service and expertise. As someone passionate about the value of policy and research knowledge in social work, I see my job as learning about the interests and practice needs of student-practitioners, facilitating interactive knowledge building around these needs and equipping student-practitioners to continue to build policy knowledge—not only to apply and share such knowledge with those they serve—but also to critique policy with an eye toward constructive change.
My areas of research and policy interests include federal and state employment policies and supports (particularly earned sick days and family leave legislation), the role of states as "policy laboratories," and employment and caregiving.
My research and policy practice focus on efforts to improve financial, workplace, and caregiving security for women and families across the age and socioeconomic spectrum. This work continues to follow three distinct but related strands: (1) labor force policy implementation (including paid family leave and paid maternity leave, paid/earned sick days, child care subsidies); (2) economic insecurity and caregiving; and (3) gender and work (for example, work patterns and supports for women with breast cancer).
- Houser, L., Schram, S.F., Soss, J., & Fording, R.C. (2015). Babies as barriers: Welfare policy discourse in an era of neoliberalism. Handbook of Poverty, 1–36.
- Houser, L., McCarthy, M., Lawer, L., & Mandell, D. (2014). A challenging fit: Employment, child care, and therapeutic support in families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of Social Service Research, 40(5), 681–698.
- Houser, L., Schram, S.F., Soss, J., & Fording, R.C. (2014). From work support to work motivator: Child care subsidies and caseworker discretion in the post-welfare reform era. Journal of Women, Politics, & Policy, 35(2), 174–193.
Professional Affiliations & Memberships
Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP), Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR)
- Faculty Research Award Nominee, Widener University (2015)
- Award for Best Article, Social Welfare Division of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (2011)
- Award for Best Paper on Public Policy, American Political Science Association (2008)
In the Media
- Center for Social Work Education Professors Publish Journal Article
Margo Campbell and Linda Houser, both associate professors in Widener's Center for Social Work Education, published an article in June 2020 in "Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services." The article, titled "Connecting Caregiver Wages and Distress: Felt Precarity, Parenting, and Child Behavior," focused on employed mothers experiences of felt precarity, an emotional reaction to structurally generated vulnerability. Their study linked wages, a potential source of precarity, to well-being using a family stress model of economic hardship.