Settlement houses are one prism through which the contested history of macro social work can be viewed. The early settlements spearheaded social reform while building community solidarity. Historic shifts in the political economy changed the work of settlements, particularly the development of neighborhood houses. The dynamic interplay in the past decades between the corporatization of not-for-profit culture, shrinking government funding, and a redefinition of settlement services have particularly affected settlement work. The traditional view of settlements and neighborhood centers, that located people of color, especially Black people who addressed structural barriers and offered transformative solutions, outside its gaze has missed a good deal of history. Needless to say, this is not meant to be an all-inclusive listing of resources and readings nor the last word on settlement macro practice and macro challenges.
Robert Fisher, Michael Fabricant, and Lukas Champagne
Tomi Gomory and Daniel Dunleavy
Social work is perhaps most distinctive for its clear and outspoken commitment toward improving the well-being of society’s vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, while still emphasizing the importance of respecting and defending personal rights and freedoms. Though there is a fundamental necessity for coercion, or its threat, for eliciting civil social behavior in a well-functioning society, it is professionally and ethically imperative that social workers make explicit our rationales for, justifications of, and the evidence used to support or reject coercive practices in our work. Social work’s engagement with coercion inevitably entails the ethical and social policy arguments for and against its use, as shown in a review of the empirical evidence regarding its impact on the professions’ clients, exemplified by three domains: (1) child welfare, (2) mental health, and (3) addictions. Recommendations for future improvements involve balancing the potential for harm against the benefits of coercive actions.
Mark R. Rank
Poverty has been a subject of concern since the beginnings of social work. This entry reviews three key research areas. First, the extent and dynamics of poverty are examined, including the measurement of poverty, patterns of cross-sectional and comparative poverty rates, the longitudinal dynamics of poverty, and poverty as a life-course risk. Second, reasons for poverty are discussed. These are divided into individual versus structural level explanations. The concept of structural vulnerability is offered as a way of bridging key individual and structural determinants in order to better understand the existence of poverty. Third, strategies and solutions to poverty are briefly reviewed.