Ethics of Poverty/Poverty of Ethics: Social Work’s Role in Helping the Poor
Poverty is a widespread, entrenched problem in America, and the ranks of the poor continue to swell. While some would argue that the poor are poor because of their own lack of motivation and initiative, other point to issues of discrimination, economic inequality, and other forms of social injustice as primary culprits. While it can be argued that the poor will always be among us, our moral compass points to leveling the playing field so that poverty in America can be reduced, if not eliminated. One of the code ethical principles of social work is to address social inequality, with poverty as one of the primary targets; yet, as a profession, social work has tended to focus on changing individuals instead of changing conditions that perpetuate poverty. With the best of intentions, social worker tend to see their role as one of helping individuals and families, often ignoring societal forces like oppression and social injustice. This workshop examines social workers’ role as social justice advocates and our ethical responsibility in helping the poor.