social service or social change?

“…social service work addresses the needs of individuals reeling from the personal and devastating impact of institutional systems of exploitation and violence. social change work challenges the root causes of the exploitation and violence…while there is some overlap between social service provision and social change work, the two do not necessarily go readily together…the tasks of funding, staffing, and developing resources for our organizations to meet those needs are difficult, poorly supported, and even actively undermined by those with power and wealth in our society. although some groups are both working for social change and providing social services, there are many more groups providing social services that are not working for social change. in fact, many social service agencies may be intentionally or inadvertently working to maintain the status quo. after all, the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) wouldn’t exist without a lot of people in dire straits. the NPIC provides jobs; it provides opportunities for professional development. it enables those who do the work to feel good about what we do and about our ability to help individuals survive in the system. it gives a patina of caring and concern to the ruling class which funds the work. while there is always the risk of not securing adequate funding, there is a greater risk that if we did something to really rock the boat and address the root of the problems we would lose whatever funding we’ve already managed to secure.”

-paul kivel, excerpt from “social service or social change?”