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Social network research and social work macro practice

Netting and Kettner (1998) review the notion of community as applied to social work macro practice. Citing Felin (1995) they explain that community occurs when “a group of people form a social unit based on common location, interest, identification, culture and/or activities”. They then outline 3 types of communities (1) geographic or place-based, (2) functional based on identification / interest, and (3) personal/social networks. Methods to understand social networks have advanced considerably since the late 1990s. Nicholas Christakis is a leader of social network analysis. I found the following figure from a recent paper in Annals of Internal Medicine.

There is tremendous opportunity to apply these analytical techniques to understanding community development and social work macro practice.

Drinking in the Framingham Heart Study social network in 2000

Dazinger – The Mismeasure of Poverty

In the following article, Sheldon Dazinger explains how a limited measure of poverty skews our perception of the degree of poverty in the United States.  He argues for the use of a measure that incorporates anti-poverty policies in order to provide evidence of the success of the “safety net” in reducing poverty overtime.  In addition, Dazinger explains that economic growth has done little to alleviate poverty in the last few decades.  Growth has not reached the poor because of high levels of inequality and the concentration of growth at the highest end of the income distribution.  He argues for an increase of the minimum wage to begin correcting this.

Week 5 Memo questions

### Week 5 ###
1. Netting and Kettner review definitions of community, community structure and functions, models of community practice, etc. From the chapter, what is one conclusion that you draw? What questions remain for you about community practice to address poverty?
2. L. Botes and D. Van Rensburg outline nine plagues and twelve commandments. Rank your top 2 plagues or commandments and explain in detail why they are important to your model of development?

Week 4 Memo Questions

## Week 4 ##
1. McKnight provides the iatrogenic argument, i.e., that diagnosis/treatment is causing the problem; helpers are actually hurting. Cite 1-2 concrete examples that support and/ or dispute this argument and explain your personal position.
2. McKnight also takes a strong stand on knowledge creation with the distinction that guidance ought to be found in “traditional wisdom” of mankind, not expertise of helping professions. Considering your professional practice – to what extent is traditional wisdom used vs. “expert knowledge”? What is the role of expert knowledge in your field?

Week 3 Memo Questions


Week 3

1. Adam Smith suggests that, “through self interest he promotes the well being of others” p. 156. Explain two concrete scenarios. In the first explain how self-interest promotes development (i.e., well-being). In the second example, explain how self-interest can impede the well-being of others. Be very specific in both accounts.
2. In Figure 2 Milanovic provides us the “mother of all inequality disputes” with three concepts. Assuming you can only choose one, explain why you chose it and discuss the causes of the trend you see over time.
3. On the political philosophical level – Milanovic argues, “proletarian solidarity is then simply dead because there is no longer such a thing as the global proletariat” p. 21. Do you agree or disagree with Milanovic’s argument? Explain with 2-3 concrete lines of reasoning.

Week 2 Follow up

A couple points from class are worth emphasizing here with some vocabulary concepts. The first is purchasing power parity (PPP). Haughton and Milanovic used this term so it’s worth explaining.  PPP is used to standardize currencies to enable cross-country comparisons. 2 definitions below:

Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

The Economist

Second, I emphasized the importance of understanding market failures. Much of the economic system assumes that markets will function. People will act and behave in their self-interest. However, a growing body of work is showing how markets fail when people act against their self-interest (behavioral economics). The following provides a nice list of market failures. The Wikipedia post is not bad, either. We’ll be reading about the public goods problem- a type of market failure – later in the semester.


How do, and should we, measure poverty?

I recently came across this story from the Columbia School of Social Work. Three notable academics address the topic of how to best measure poverty. The analysis is US-centric but includes some valuable content on comparing measures and how municipalities can use poverty measures to inform policy. The story with audio files can be found here.


recent global poverty stories in the Economist

At least three stories have been published in the Economist on the reduction in global poverty. Relates to SWRK 626 Week 3 discussion.

African child mortality: The best story in development

 Poverty: Not always with us

The world’s next great leap forward: Towards the end of poverty


SWRK 626 Week 2 Memo Questions


Week 2

1. Haughton and Haughton describe the differences between income and expenditures for measuring well-being. In your view is income or expenditure a better indicator of well-being? See the contrast on Table 10.1. Explain with 2-3 points articulating your rationale.
2. According to Haughton and Haughton p. 94,    “[relative measures of poverty] can be helpful in identifying poor areas or poor subgroups in a society… but does not serve if the purpose is to measure the effectiveness of the interventions.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Explain your rationale.
3. According to Goodman-Draper, in native communities there was a “dissolution of the traditional, collectivist Native way of life” towards “private property, individualism, and the destruction of collectivism” p. 45. Is there any way this could also be interpretted as “development”? Why or why not?
4. Fortin et al show massive differences in wage changes for males and females between 1980 to 2005 (Figure 2).  Could you argue that women have experienced more “development” over the last 30 years than men? Why or why not?
5. Haveman outlines several different poverty measurements – absolute (income), relative (income), consumption, capability, asset, subjective, multidimensional, and social exclusion. Based on your experience and the information provided in the chapter, assuming you are the policy czar of Quebec, which one poverty measure would you choose? Explain with 3-4 points. Alternatively, assume you ere the policy czar of a developing country, which one poverty measure would you choose? Explain with 3-4 points.

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