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- Author or Editor: Michal Krumer-Nevo x
In this seminal book, Krumer-Nevo introduces the Poverty-Aware Paradigm: a radical new framework for social workers and professionals working with and for people in poverty.
The author defines the core components of the Poverty-Aware Paradigm, explicates its embeddedness in key theories in poverty, critical social work and psychoanalysis, and links it to diverse facets of social work practice.
Providing a revolutionary new way to think about how social work can address poverty, she draws on the extensive application of the paradigm by social workers in Israel and across diverse poverty contexts to provide evidence for the practical advantages of integrating the Poverty-Aware Paradigm into social work practices across the globe.
This chapter provides a full overview of the theoretical principles of the Poverty-Aware Paradigm (PAP). Following a brief introduction of the concept of the paradigm and a discussion of its contribution, the chapter goes on to describe the PAP and its ontological, epistemological, and axiological premises and their influence on social work practice. The chapter compares the PAP and the two historically dominant social work paradigms—the conservative and the structural. The conservative paradigm, with its distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor, notions of the “culture of poverty”, “underclass”, and the currently popular neuroscience of poverty, is strongly challenged in this chapter. The structural paradigm is presented as offering a fruitful analysis of poverty. However, it has not inspired direct practice on a large scale. The chapter builds upon the structural paradigm and combines it with concepts from critical theories and current psychoanalytic concepts to present the PAP as a useful paradigm for analysis and practice.
This is the first of the four chapters that comprise Part One of the book, which is dedicated to the issue of transformation. This chapter focuses on the transformation of the professional spoken vocabulary regarding poverty. Through a close look at the words that social workers use to describe service users in poverty, links are made between language (rhetoric), attitudes, and practice. The chapter presents an overview of six basic principles of the paradigm and translates them to guidelines regarding the way in which social workers should speak about and with service users. It urges social workers to be aware of the language they use and to change it.
The second chapter of Part One is based on an analysis of the rhetorical aspects of a case study written by a social worker for a group supervision. It covers ideas regarding the politics of representation and exemplifies how awareness of the power of professional writing can change a written case study through the presentation of three versions of the same case study. In addition to contributing to social workers who wish to gain insight into this aspect of their work, the chapter is suitable for teaching purposes.
The third chapter of Part One deals with transformational teaching and describes the challenge of unveiling social workers’ basic conservative conceptual framework and replacing it with a critical one. Drawing upon responses of students in PAP courses, the chapter presents this challenge as containing both cognitive and emotional aspects. It addresses the issues of deconstructing conservative attitudes during teaching without attacking or blaming students, connecting knowledge and attitudes in practice, and the role of an ongoing dialogue in transformational teaching. The chapter concludes with guidelines for handling these issues.
This chapter, the fourth of Part One of the book, asks ten questions regarding poverty and the Poverty-Aware Paradigm and answers them. Among the questions are the following: Are people who are busy with basic survival and the attempt to meet their primary existential needs available for emotional therapeutic processes? If structural issues have such a crucial impact on poverty, how can we understand that in the same neighbourhoods, the children of some families manage to escape poverty while others do not? Does poverty-aware social work free people of their responsibility for their situations? How can social workers avoid encouraging dependency among service users?
This chapter opens Part Two of the book, which is dedicated to the PAP’s version of relationship-based practice. The chapter introduces readers to the concept of recognition, linking it to poverty and therapy. Based on a review of works by philosophers and psychoanalysts, this chapter argues that recognition is a basic component of the therapeutic relationship that enables the psychological experience of one’s subjectivity. Nevertheless, in the context of the power relations that constitute the helping relations with people in poverty, recognition must overcome specific obstacles. The chapter argues that in order to give recognition to service users living in poverty, social workers should acknowledge four aspects of service users’ inner worlds: their needs, their knowledge, the emotional pain caused by poverty, and their ways of resisting poverty. Acknowledging these four aspects enables full recognition and makes it possible to see the full humanity of service users and establish close relationships with them. The recognition of these four aspects are further detailed and exemplified in the next three chapters.
Following the introduction of the concept of recognition in the previous chapter, this chapter focuses on the recognition of service users’ needs and knowledge. The chapter presents the difference between “voice” and knowledge and urges social workers to listen to service users and relate to them as having valuable knowledge regarding their lives and society. In addition, the chapter argues that Maslow’s popular hierarchy of needs reduces the humanity of people in poverty, whose basic needs are often not fulfilled. The chapter exemplifies the recognition of service users’ needs and knowledge through a close reading of the life story of Sarit, a 23-year-old single mother of three.
This chapter continues the discussion of recognition by focusing on the second area of service users’ inner worlds that needs to be recognized—the emotional pain connected to poverty. The chapter presents excerpts from women’s accounts of the existence of emotional pain in their lives. Since pain is a subjective phenomenon, in order to recognize it social workers are forced to adopt service users’ perspectives regarding their emotional pain. Unlike pathology, which is determined by the social worker with or without the approval of service users, pain can be defined and determined only by service users. The chapter presents women’s strategies for dealing with their pain—including concealment. Hence, the recognition of pain requires close and trustful relationships. The chapter discusses the role pain plays in the interactions between people in poverty and social workers.
The concluding chapter of Part Two of the book closely examines the efforts people make to resist poverty and the means by which social workers should identify these acts of resistance in order to amplify them. The chapter is based on Lister’s taxonomy of acts of agency and conceptualizes the difference between agency and resistance. The chapter focuses on the manifestations of service users’ efforts to resist poverty in their encounters with social workers, including situations in which social workers feel that they have been manipulated or abused by service users. The chapter suggests a way of thinking that promotes the maintenance of close relationships under very difficult circumstances.