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About Michael Dover

Michael A. Dover is a social worker, a sociologist, and a theorist of human needs and human injustice. He received a BSW from Adelphi University's ANSWER program in 1978, while working as a community organizer, group home worker, and school-based family worker. After earning his MSSW at Columbia University in 1980, he worked as an advanced generalist practitioner, primarily directing in union-based employee assistance programs in New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia. He earned his Ph.D. in Social Work and Sociology at the University of Michigan. He joined the faculty at Cleveland State University in 2007. As of May 15, 2021, he has retired from full-time teaching to devote himself to research (including action research), consulting, theory development, and continued part-time teaching.

He has taught undergraduate and graduate students in theory, history and social welfare policy. Among planned research projects, May 2020 he commenced collaboration on the design of action research on Ending Institutional Racism in Higher Education, a project which began with his 2020 AAUP blog of that title, and which will be commenced in 2023.

Prof. Dover's needs-based partial theory of human injustice--published in 2019 in Humanity & Society--contends that oppression, mechanistic dehumanization, and exploitation, absent primary (upstream) prevention, this produces systematic inequality in access to satisfiers of human needs. Absent secondary (midstream) prevention, this produces wrongfully unmet needs, which absent tertiary (downstream) prevent, produces serious harm. The theory also presents a conceptual continuum from human injustice to basic human need satisfaction to human liberation. It will be applied to the conceptualization of a conceptual framework for interprofessional practice, of professional helping and of social work practice.

In 2016, he published, "The moment of microaggression: The experience of acts of oppression, dehumanization, and exploitation," in the Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment. This widely-cited article was peer-reviewed as making "a major contribution to the empirical and theoretical literature on racial microaggressions." The article is an example of theory arising from classroom exercises, in which students clarified the the emotions associated with the experience of microaggression and identified their roots in oppression, mechanistic dehumanization and exploitation.

In 2009, he published "Rapport, Empathy, and Oppression: Cross-Cultural Vignettes," and in 2010, "Social Working for Social Justice," in Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping. He served as Editor of this journal from 2012-2017 and as publisher from 2017 until March 2021. A lifelong social activist, he co-convened the Bertha Reynolds Society (now Social Welfare Action Alliance) in 1985. He co-founded the Cuyahoga County Conference on Social Welfare in 2011.

He was first author of the first-ever entry on human needs in the Encyclopedia of Social work in 2008 the author of a widely cited 2016 update.  He is also a twice-published author of Oxford Bibliographies Online entries on human need.

His historical sociological dissertation at the University of Michigan (2003) was based on four years of research in Toledo and at the Ohio Historical Center in Columbus: "The Social System of Real Property Ownership: Public and Nonprofit Property Tax Exemptions and Corporate Tax Abatements in City and Suburb, 1955-2000." He hopes to complete a book based on his dissertation, American Commons: The Property Tax Exemption in Urban History, which was previously under contract with a major academic publisher, 

He is an Ohio native, partially raised in Maple Heights. His current theory development involves involved completing a two-part article on theorizing needs-based professional helping and advanced generalist social work practice. He can still reached at


Present Associate College Lecturer Emeritus, Cleveland State University

Curriculum Vitae

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Contribution to Book (5)

Teaching Works (5)

Unpublished papers (10)