Despite the growing involvement of people in poverty in social policy, their participation does not necessarily take place on a par with policymakers, as the latter often do not really embrace their demands for social justice. It is, therefore, argued that social work has a role to play in the process of merging knowledge of people in poverty with that of policymakers and other stakeholders by representing their perspectives in public debate.
By drawing on an in‐depth qualitative research of five “Associations where People in Poverty Raise their Voice” (Belgium), the complexity of the direct participation of people in poverty in such a politics of representation is analyzed, as well as the different roles social work practitioners can take on in dealing with this complexity. Here, two roles are distinguished: “a guardian of collective and transformative elements”; and “a strategical chess player.” We conclude that practitioners need to reflect critically on participatory premises and practices and consider whether these strategies actually contribute to societal change. However, the ideal of parity of participation entails that such strategic considerations should always be collaboratively discussed with people in poverty.