A strengths-based practice perspective is, at best, weak and, perhaps, irrelevant in social service structures that are powered by social control values, driven by the market economy, and protected by professional self interests. This paper proposes that the relationship between the patron and the client, as expressed by the metaphor "clientelism" in the development literature, and "clientification", as described by Habermas, are informative as significant obstacles to the implementation of strengthsbased social work practice and social service delivery. The paper argues that for strengths-based practice to be viable, it and its advocates must confront more fundamental change by becoming more policy focused and implementing action strategies to overcome fundamental barriers while generating empirical evidence of its efficacy.

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