Community anti-poverty strategies: A conceptual framework for a critical discussion

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Although communities are a recurring theme in poverty research and an essential component in anti-poverty strategies, the conceptualization of the link between communities and anti-poverty strategies has not been adequately addressed. The article argues that this inadequacy reflects the complexity of the construct. The difficulty in elaborating a more adequate conceptualization of the link between the 'community' concept and the 'anti-poverty strategy' construct derives from the discursive nature of the concepts of 'poverty' and 'community'. The discursive nature of the term 'community' is mirrored in the ways in which the term is subject to multiple definitions, framed according different representations, affected by changing discourse, and interpreted by competing professional traditions of community practice. In addition to this complexity, the discursive character of the 'poverty' concept, which is manifested in the lack of consensus surrounding the goals of anti-poverty strategies and the contentious ideological nature of poverty theories, make the task of reaching a common conceptualization of 'community anti-poverty strategy' extremely difficult. The present article is based on a discourse analysis perspective and presents five analytical categories for a critical discussion of the concept. Moreover, it offers some practical recommendations that can guide social workers in developing strategies that better reflect the plights, desires and aspirations of communities living in poverty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1063-1081
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Anti-poverty programmes
  • Community
  • Community development
  • Community practice
  • Poverty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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