Poverty, etiology of poverty, poverty attribution theories, theory evaluation scale, epistemology


The purpose of this article is to appraise two competing frameworks related to poverty attribution: individualistic theories and structural theories. Using the Theory Evaluation Scale (TES)—an empirically validated nine-criterion measure—this paper scrutinizes the aforementioned theories for coherence, conceptual clarity, philosophical assumptions, connection with previous research, testability, empiricism, limitations, client context, and human agency. Results revealed that, at the scale level, both perspectives are of excellent quality. However, at the item-level, the structural perspective was found to be significantly stronger than the individual perspective. Therefore, the structural perspective is an epistemologically sounder framework for informing antipoverty interventions.

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