Social Work, Poverty and Economic Injustice

One of the defining principles of the social work profession is that of working to ensure equality and social justice for clients. In today’s challenging economic climate, these qualities are perhaps best defined by cases involving poverty and economic justice. Students who are earning their master of social work (MSW) degree need look no further than the evening news to see examples of how prevalent poverty is in modern society. Social work professionals are instrumental in addressing the wider societal context of these complex problems.

What is poverty and economic injustice?

What is Poverty and Economic Injustice?

For students to understand how social workers can help clients in difficult economic positions, they should first have a solid grasp on what poverty and social injustice are, and how people’s lives are affected by them.

Defining Economic Justice and Social Justice Resource published by the Center for Economic and Social Justice. This page offers a comprehensive definition of the terms and how they relate to social work professionals. This resources uses the Kelso-Adler theory of economic justice to illustrate the main points.

Social and Economic Justice: Definitions and Examples A valuable resource for students earning their MSW degree to begin their research. This page offers several clear examples of social and economic justice and how they affect people’s lives.

The Development and History of Poverty Thresholds Government agencies assess the eligibility of individuals applying for financial assistance based on various poverty thresholds. This resource, published by the Department of Social Security, outlines the history of these limits and offers an explanation of how they are adjusted and calculated to reflect changes in the economy as a whole.

Issues facing social workers involved in economic injustice cases

Issues Facing Social Workers Involved in Economic Injustice Cases

One of the primary issues that social workers face when dealing with cases involving poverty and economic injustice is that of the root societal causes. Individual circumstances can be affected by a wide variety of external factors, including socioeconomic backgrounds, race, religion, immigration status and more. Accurately assessing these factors when dealing with clients affected by such issues is the first step in determining how best to serve them.

Advocating for Social Justice Text examining the changing role of social work professionals in economic reform cases. This resource uses extensive examples of how the role of social workers has changed over time from that of active reformers to more advocacy-focused roles.

Social and Economic Justice: The Challenge Facing Social Work in the U.S. Paper addressing the myriad of root causes of economic injustice in the U.S. and Canada. This text also offers a detailed overview of how these complex problems can be addressed by evidence-based social work practice.

Understanding Poverty from Multiple Social Science Perspectives Paper offering students who are earning their MSW degree an overview of various approaches to such problems from multiple perspectives. This paper could serve as a starting point for entry-level human services workers.

Social Services, Civil Rights and Poverty Defining text offering historical perspectives into the correlation between employment and poverty. This paper also investigates how increased employment opportunities may not necessarily lead to increased societal equality for some individuals.

The Changing Urban Geography of Poverty and Service Provision Examination of how wider economic conditions have affected the provision of social and human services access for the general population. This study investigates the relationship of urban versus rural living, and how this can affect access to social services.

Attributions of Poverty Among Social Work Students in Croatia Although focused on the case study of a focus group of European students, this defining text offers insight into how attitudes towards poverty can be affected by a greater level of understanding between the root societal causes and the effects of poverty.

Poverty Aware Social Work Education Publication examining how students who are earning their MSW can be aware of how the unique ethical, economic and societal causes of poverty can affect development and training programs within the social work profession.

Reflections on Power, Privilege and Oppression Guest editorial published by the National Association of Social Workers, written from a social work perspective. This article discusses a social worker’s viewpoint on the realities of economic oppression of the poor by the wealthy, in addition to examining concepts of social mobility and advocacy for the economically disadvantaged.

Prevention and Economic Security Article discussing the importance of a sense of community in enabling individuals, families and neighborhoods to recover from the effects of economic injustice. This newsletter uses several case studies to illustrate the main points.

The Shadow Economy: Challenges for Social Policy Defining text offering an in-depth investigation of the often-unseen effects of poverty and economic injustice. Uses case studies and wider societal examples of how illegal employment, poor working conditions and lack of job security can contribute to the same problems that necessitate such behavior.

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