Poverty, Social Assistance, and Social Investment


in Social Work and Social Development

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199732326
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199863471 | DOI:
Poverty, Social Assistance, and Social Investment

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This chapter discusses the role of social work in addressing the problems of poverty through social assistance and related programs. When social work first emerged as a profession in the late 19th century and for many years after, social workers were actively involved in poverty alleviation and social assistance programs. During the New Deal for example, social workers in the United States participated extensively in the administration of public assistance. However, in the latter half of the 20th century, they disengaged from programs of this kind and much more emphasis was placed on psychotherapeutic interventions. This chapter argues that social workers have a key role to play in formulating and implementing social assistance programs designed to reduce poverty. Several international examples are given to illustrate this point. It also shows that these programs can be configured in ways that replace minimalist, Poor Law type of cash transfers and enhance investments.

Keywords: poverty; social assistance; welfare reform; social work; social development

Chapter.  10103 words. 

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