One of the most prevalent and persistent social problems in the United States is poverty. By sharing theories, principles, and concepts of human services delivery systems intended for effective interventions, the human service field will be better equipped to handle the current crisis and plight of the poor. Introduction
Anti-poverty programs are designed, selected, and implemented in response to different theories about the cause of poverty that justify the human services field and its development of interventions. The definition of poverty and its theories are rooted in research traditions and political values. They are reinforced by encompassing social, political and economic institutions that have a stake in the issue. Thus, a purely objective explanation of poverty is displaced by a proliferation of socially defined issues and concerns from both liberal and conservative perspectives. No one theory of poverty has emerged that either subsumes or invalidates the others (Blank, 1997). Individuals experiencing poverty do not lack privileges because of who they are, but as a matter of their relative association(s) to the category of poverty. Their circumstances and socio-economic class distinctions are situational and almost always changes over time. Johnson’s (2008) premise holds: It is the category (and reality) of poverty that afflicts the individual. According to Ben Tracey (2010) poverty in America is skyrocketing at a record pace. He also claims 1 in 7 Americans to be officially poor. The human service field is far-reaching, yet the need for services focusing upon the poverty stricken still remains great. For decades programs have been created to assist American families in dealing with the effects of poverty. There are many issues that Americans possess concerning poverty along with a need for expanded methods to address and enact change within this population. The purpose of this paper is to examine various advocacy strategies, theories and methods related to the human service delivery apply to the selected topic of poverty. An analysis of empirical and theoretical literature relevant to the topic will also ensue. Finding and implementing anti-poverty strategies and theories to make the task of reaching a common conceptualization of poverty and proposing recommendations to develop strategies that reflect dilemmas, needs, and ambitions of communities living in poverty provides applicable theoretical knowledge of poverty and how it relates to the human service field (Strier, 2009). The scope of the human services field is an essential component in anti-poverty strategies; the schema of the connection between human service organizations and anti-poverty strategies has never really been adequately addressed. This inadequacy echo’s the intricacy of the construct. The complexity in elaborating a more sufficient conceptualization of the association between the human services concept and the anti-poverty strategy construct derives from the discursive nature of the notions of poverty and human services. The discursive nature of the term human service is mirrored in the ways in which the term is subject to numerous definitions, outlined according to diverse depictions, influenced by altering discourse, and interpreted by contending professional traditions of community practice. In addition to this complexity, the poverty concept, noticeably manifested in the lack of consensus surrounding the purposes of anti-poverty strategies and the controversial ideological nature of poverty theories, make the mission of reaching a common conceptualization of a human services anti-poverty strategy extremely difficult. There needs to be a cumulative effort that offers some practical recommendations that can guide human service workers in developing strategies that better reflect the plights, desires and aspirations of communities living in poverty. Theory of American Poverty as it Relates to...
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