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Learn About the Common Misconceptions on Social Works

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Wanda Wiggins
Wanda Wiggins
Wanda Wiggins is a communication expert and training professional. She holds an M.A. in Communication and a B.A. in Business Communication.

Learn About the Common Misconceptions on Social Works

You will be surprised to know how little is actually accomplished in social work. Social workers do not believe in measuring the effect of their work, mostly because the results are hard to measure. It fails because it overlooks the traditional values associated with underlying myths. Some of the common social work misconceptions that form the basis of social work are discussed in this post.

  • People are used to thinking of the disadvantaged as victims. People experiencing poverty are usually portrayed as downtrodden victims of employers, bad teachers, landlords, police, clinics, merchants, etc., and have fallen through the cracks or are trapped. This is one of the major common social work misconceptions.
  • It is often considered that each social problem has some deep psychological origin.
  • Low-income people can be motivated to improve only through a close relationship with the social worker, thus creating patronizing or unreal relationships that often backfire.
  • Values are relative and often lead to the question, ‘Who are you to impose your values on people in the ghetto? Remember that middle-class values are traditional and universal.
  • Society is often seen as hypocritical, exploitative, racist, and oppressive, and this outlook is impractical in the real world.
  • The poor are victims and should be helped to create values without prejudice. This extremely indulgent approach postpones traditional values and does not hold the poor accountable.
  • There are no negatives of social work. Remember that if there are positives, there should be negatives. Just like if there is reward, there is punishment; if there is success, there is failure.
  • It also assumes that there is no authority, discipline, and punishment, which thus results in complete disorder and turmoil.
  • Even minor teasing is considered a humiliation.
  • The programs are usually so appealing that people experiencing poverty will want to join, eventually rubbing off society’s values. This is too indulgent.
  • It considers that everyone is included, and everyone has to progress together in order to achieve equality. This is naive and allows the bad apple to ruin the bunch.
  • Many jobs require social workers to speak psychobabble and spend months developing relationships with the youth to rub off some values. The lack of basic literature was unbearable and worthless. The poor were portrayed as miserable when many of them were happy, some even more than the social workers.
  • Most social work programs lack definition and management, and thus, the poor are stagnated. Though the dressing keeps changing, the work remains the same, and the social workers become disillusioned. However, a few good programs swim upstream, doing thankless work and producing positive results. But most often, these programs are constantly criticized in academia and the media.
  • The American poor have never seen hardships like the immigrants, such as illiteracy, squalor, disease, civil unrest, homeless kids on the streets, war, corruption, and low status of women. We are portrayed as victims of post industrial, technical society who have fallen through the cracks and are caught in the cycle of poverty. Most American poor think menial jobs like picking crops, washing dishes, collecting newspapers from trash, shopping at thrift shops, harvesting crops, saving money, getting parts from junkyards, etc., are substandard, dehumanizing, and stigmatizing. They are told such work is undignified, and social workers reinforce this by making it impractical. Thus, their work habits tend to deteriorate and fall out of the mainstream.

One of the best economists, Henry Hazlitt, is of the same view and stated that social workers never defined poverty. He complained that they pitied the pauper but not the worker or taxpayer, never faced the disastrous results of social programs, considered anti-poverty as a recent effort, coddled the poor despite their agency’s policies to the contrary, never summoned up, systematically ignored the reasons of poverty, did not learn from the past, and worked to make everyone equal by leveling down.

He also said that social workers wanted no loss of dignity for a person when they got no welfare but a gain when they got off, preened themselves on compassion, insisted on seeing the poor as exploited victims of unequal distributions of wealth, and did not distinguish between poverty caused by misfortune and caused by folly.

According to Hazlitt, the most common myths about poverty are that the poor are trapped, the amount of wealth is limited, the rich cause poverty and keep getting richer while the poor get poorer, the owner of a business gets the most income, social programs help the poor, and capitalism helps the rich the most.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, if you want social work to take its place, it should drop guilt, emotion, and love and be realistic by using plain language and rating programs and literature. It should focus on things like finding out how poor immigrants with limited English pass our poor who are fluent in English and why nonprofessionals are effective in helping the poor. It should aim at instilling traditional values and require the poor to work before being eligible for job training or counseling.

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