Social Science

Theories help frame more than presenting problems—they also frame social problems, and both types of problems can be linked in relation to client issues. For example, many scholars and social workers have attempted to understand the social problem of poverty. Turner and Lehning (2007) classified various psychological theories to explain poverty under two headings: (1) individual-related theories or (2) structural/cultural-related theories. In other words, think of these two headings as lenses in viewing poverty. In this Discussion, you apply lenses through which to understand a client’s problem in relation to social problems.

To prepare:

  • Read this article listed in the Learning Resources: Turner, K., & Lehning, A. J. (2007). Psychological theories of poverty. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 16(1/2), 57–72. doi:10.1300/J137v16n01-05
  • Select a theory under the individual-related theories and a theory under the structural/cultural-related theories.
  • Complete the handout “Comparing Individual-Related and Structural/Cultural-Related Theories” to help you craft your response. (Note: You do not need to upload the handout to the Discussion forum. The handout is intended to assist you in writing your Discussion post.)



  • Describe how a social worker would conceptualize a presenting problem of poverty from the two theories you selected.
  • Explain how this conceptualization differs from an individual-related versus a structural/cultural-related theoretical lens.
  • Compare how the two theoretical lenses differ in terms of how the social worker would approach the client and the problem and how the social worker would intervene.

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