Psychological Theories of Poverty


Social work education, practice, and research are heavily influenced by theories developed by psychologists. A review of the literature was conducted to identify theories of poverty emerging from the field of psychology. In general, until 1980, psychological theories of poverty emphasized the role of the individual or group to explain the causes and impact of poverty. Between 1980 and 2000, psychologists began to consider the structural and societal factors that contribute to poverty and moved beyond the explanations of individual pathology. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, an increasing number of psychological theorists acknowledge the role of social, political, and economic factors in the creation and maintenance of poverty. Implications for social work education, practice, and future research are discussed.

Turner, K.
Lehning, A.J.
Publication date: 
October 12, 2008
Publication type: 
Journal Article