Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Satka M, McGregor C & Chambon, A
European Journal Of Social Work
Transforming European welfare policies, social work and social care practices: a special issue from the Third European Conference for Social Work Research
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European social work research conference Helsinki 2012
Editorial EDITORIALTransforming European welfare policies, social work and socialcare practices: a special issue from the Third European Conferencefor Social Work ResearchThis special issue documents a selection of the many excellent papers presented at theThird European Conference for Social Work and Social Care Research (ECSWR) inMarch 2013 at Jyväskylä, Finland. It follows an earlier special issue, which was based onthe very first ECSWR research conference series held at Oxford in 2011 (see EuropeanJournal of Social Work, volume 15, issue 4). The editors of this important first issue,Staffan Höjer and Brian Taylor, were enthusiastic and full of trust when they described intheir editorial the recent developments and near future perspectives for European socialwork and social care research. One of their future visions, following the North Americanscholarly developments of the Society for Social Work and Research, was to have a distinctEuropean organization with the task to promote high-level innovative and interdisciplinarysocial work and social care research, build networks of researchers within Europe as wellas foster links between European and wider international research networks.We, the editors of the second special issue in European Journal of Social Work fromthe third ECSWR conference are very pleased to inform readers that such an organizationthe European Social Work Research Association (ESWRA), which saw daylight inJanuary 2014, was first conceived and planned at the Jyväskylä conference. Its existencewas collectively and legally confirmed in a historic meeting at the recent fourth ECSWRat Bolzano/Bozen, Italy. According to the Foundation Protocol,1 the new association ‘willtake forward the development, practice and utilization of social work research, to enhanceknowledge about individual and social problems, and promote just and equitablesocieties’. And so, an important milestone for the future activities in European socialwork research has been passed. The ESWRA will oversee the planning of the nextECSWR conference—our fifth so far! The conference will be in April 2015, and will berun in cooperation with the local partnering organizers from the University of Ljubljana.The first chairperson of the new society is a British Professor Ian Shaw. He will befollowed in the position in 2015 by an Italian Professor Silvia Fargion. Presently, the neworganization is recruiting members across countries and across the many well-establishedresearch traditions including social work and social pedagogy, as well as other disciplinesin the wide social field. Among its other activities, the association is planning to continuecooperation with the European Journal of Social Work to publish further special issuesarising from the conference papers of the future. As the current guest editors, we aregrateful to have this opportunity to act as one of the links in the long chain of the ongoinginternational networking and publishing which has become more and more crucial for theincreasingly collaborative present day knowledge production.European Journal of Social Work, 2014Vol. 17, No. 5, 611–615,© 2014 Taylor & FrancisDownloaded by [National University of Ireland - Galway] at 01:58 04 September 2015Turning to the substance of the papers presented in this issue, it is important to startout to acknowledge that the past decades have brought not only increased wealth but alsoremarkable inequality, marginalization, and poverty among many groups of citizens allover in Europe. This fact resonates with the bridging theme of the third ECSWRconference organized by Jyväskylä University in 2013. The theme of the conference wasextensive, reflecting both the European research profile in the field of social welfare andsocial work and the research profile of the particular university. The theme TransformingEuropean welfare policies, social work and social care practices was chosen with the aimto analyze empirically both ongoing changes in welfare policies and their societal andhuman consequences on all levels of organized social welfare and human well-being.This kind of theme gave broad intellectual space to consider the demanding questions thatwill be long-lasting on the research agenda of social work experts. Welfare states East,West, South, Center and North of Europe have been going through substantial andfoundational processes of change. Policy trends like retrenchment, privatization, andoutsourcing characterize much of the recent developments in European nation states.These changes in social welfare provision and organization are having considerableeffects on professional practices and scholarship as well as on the everyday lives and thesocial rights of citizens and non-citizens.The conference call for abstracts proved attractive, and the organizers received about300 proposals for oral and poster presentations. Not surprisingly, the most popularprecategories of the received abstracts were ‘social work in transition’ and ‘social workpractice research’, with about 80 proposals in each. In the review process, the differentresearch traditions in different parts of Europe became evident as well as the variousinterests of wider international social work research communities. After the reviewprocess, which followed the tradition of high standards of research of the previousECSWR conferences, about half of the proposals were accepted. Finally, the conferenceaudience had in principle the opportunity to participate in about 170 academicpresentations including the keynote speeches and posters. All presenters were invited tosubmit their paper drafts for this special issue. Thus, the editors of this special issuereceived altogether 17 proposals. Out of them, the 11 refereed papers published in thisspecial issue, in addition to further articles to be published in the next issue of theEuropean Social Work Journal, make the final balance we can offer for interested readers.Following the bridge-theme of the conference, many of the now published articlesdiscuss and analyze the recent national transformations in social services, social work,and social welfare. However, it is noteworthy that we also have papers based on twointernationally organized and to some extent comparative symposia of the conference.First, Webber and colleagues consider alternative models as to how to think andcollaborate between university and practice in social work education with two primaryaims: to produce research informed and skilled practitioners and to promote practicebasedand robust academic research also in the future. The second collaborative contributionby Cath Larkins and colleagues debates the various alternatives and experiences inorganizing children’s participation in different social contexts.The special issue is opened by Tarja Pösö, a keynote presentation-based paper. This isabout the particular challenge of the impact of meaning as a result of translation ofresearch from Finnish to English. But the implications of her paper are much broaderalso. Pösö addresses a theme of relevance to scholars globally; how does one carryoutsophisticated research and knowledge production in a global context, where translationfrom one language to another is essential, without losing the specific meaning that can be612 EditorialDownloaded by [National University of Ireland - Galway] at 01:58 04 September 2015linguistically, socially, and culturally constrained? This question extends to considerationsabout knowledge assumptions of local institutional context and social welfare arrangementsand the difficulties of transferring such background knowledge to an outsidereadership. This question holds true not only for translation but also equally for theassessment of publications by nonlocal evaluators. This intricate bundle of challenges ishighly significant in these times and important for international academic journalsin general.The authors of the article written by Martin Webber with his British and Finnishcolleagues take up the provocative issue of whether the future of social work educationwill be better within academia or within agency settings. This old and new question is aserious one that involves the nature of the discipline, its potential of critique uponinstitutional arrangements, the relevance of theory, and the importance of well-informedprofessional practice. Importantly, who is to provide direction in social work education?The authors address this question through several means: first, by stepping outside thefield to consider a compatible disciplinary arena, and second, by describing an alternativeinitiative that enlists the strengths of both academia and the professional sector to createin agreed collaboration a novel type of partnership—the urban region of Helsinki as anexample. This contribution is both specific and also more general in its scope.The first two articles are followed by a group of three empirical papers which, fromdifferent viewpoints, analyze the recent national transformations in three Europeanwelfare states—Lithuania, Switzerland and Finland—in the shade of globalizingeconomy. Natalija Mažeikienė and her colleagues discuss the relevance of the variousWestern social welfare models as tools to understand and interpret the situation andresources of a postcommunist country struggling to provide necessary social services inthe conditions of neoliberal market economy. The authors’ conclusion is that Lithuania,perhaps alike with the other postcommunist nation states, creates a distinctive welfaremodel, in particular in relation to welfare service provision, in which all actors—state,nongovernmental organization, community, private sector, and family—are the necessaryand irreplaceable stakeholders.In ‘Generating productive citizens or supporting the weak’, Gisela Hauss contributesto the critical debates relating to the impact of the social investment paradigm. She makesa unique contribution to this debate through the use of ethnography to produce rich datafrom the everyday practices of social workers with young people. In so doing, she depictsthe ambivalence, contradiction, and complexity in a powerful way. This article emphasizesthe tensions between traditional notions of helping and new rationalities oriented towardsocial investments and considers how ethnography might itself provide the analyticalskills for social work to ‘open up scope for taking professional action of one’s own’.Maija Mänttäri-van der Kuip’s viewpoint is to analyze work-related well-beingamong Finnish statutory social workers and the transforming social conditions for actingas a professional service provider under the increasing local economic pressures andefficiency demands. Her approach is based on survey data from a representative sampleof social workers employed by the Finnish municipalities. In their local conditions, up to43% of the informants report about worsening well-being and decreasing opportunities todo what they themselves consider ethically responsible social work. This circumstancehas again connections to their experiences of work-related well-being.Aurelie Picot provides an example of how the genealogical approach can enrich ourknowledge of the present conditions. Based on earlier empirical research, she analyzesthe transforming state control of families in the light of the Norwegian child welfareEditorial 613Downloaded by [National University of Ireland - Galway] at 01:58 04 September 2015policies over the period of 100 years. Her research reveals a trend toward a more implicitaction by the state and a loss of parents’ power over the child. Among other issues, theauthor connects her results with the recently progressive, right-centered child welfarepolicies of Norway and the underlying principle of ‘egalitarian individualism’.Matthias Euteneuer and Uwe Uhlendorff open up a discussion on the concept offamily and its implications for social work practice by proposing as alternative frameworka social pedagogic approach, which sheds light on the particulars of the changing familyconcept, linking family to society and on changing cultural practices. The authors illustratethis approach in a project that activates a family’s understandings of roles andrelationships in relation to their life circumstances, enabling family members to reflectupon shifting intergenerational expectations, and the tensions associated with those shifts,within a past-present-and-projected future time frame.Cath Larkins, Johanna Kiili, and Kati Palsanen explore a range of collective, groupbasedinitiatives that children and youth service users took up in participatory projects,which were held in Wales, France, and Finland. The authors draw upon four groundedcase studies, which they were part of, to elucidate the relational resources that wereactivated between the young persons and the staff or persons in authority positions.Framed through the lens of youth competence and enabling citizenship, the articleprovides meaningful illustrations and considerations on the extent to which young peoplecan influence practice and policy at the local level, the broad range of forms theseparticipatory projects can take, and how different resources can be mobilized by variousactors. From these considerations, the authors propose a model of participation that isaimed to expand the discussion beyond national distinctions.Ahuva Even-Zohar provides a detailed insight into the quality of life of older peoplein Israel by comparing older people living at home, who are members of a ‘supportivecommunity’, and nursing home residents. The research findings give an insight into themain variables that determine quality of life for older people (housing/residence andhealth being significant variables) and make a number of recommendations for improvementsin practice for community service development. As articulated in the discussion,while the article focuses specifically on the context of quality of life for a small sample ofolder people in Israel, many of the findings have significant resonance more globally.There is an implicit call for professionals such as social workers to engage moreproactively in seeking to learn from important research such as this to ensure it is takeninto account in policy-making and policy implementation.Taking the form of ‘cartoon sketches’, Ian Shaw’s article provides a stimulatingcommentary on the relationship of sociology and social work, which is illustrated throughthe use of archival materials and journal articles in the Special Collections at theUniversity of Chicago during the 1920s. His emphasis on the ‘case’ from the perspectiveof social work and sociology is illuminating. This is followed by an insightfulconsideration of what ‘sociological social work’ means in the present day. Overall, thisis an inspiring article that encourages the reader to have fruitful and frontier conversationsabout this important dynamic inter-play of discourses and practices.Finally, Caroline McGregor continues discussion about the easily forgotten importanceof including historical perspectives in the present scholarship by considering aparticular process of transformation in Ireland. She uses this example to highlight theproblems of trying to crudely separate past and present in moments of transformation, andshe calls for a more critically informed approach whereby history can more authenticallyand usefully inform the future.614 EditorialDownloaded by [National University of Ireland - Galway] at 01:58 04 September 2015Overall, this special edition gives a flavor of the types of discussions and debates thathappened in Finland and continue to occupy our minds as we think about movingforward towards the fifth conference in Slovenia next year and the consolidation of theESWRA, which offers a new mechanism within which to facilitate debate and ongoingcritical reflection on challenges and opportunities in social work, social care, socialwelfare, and social pedagogy across Europe and more widely. We wish to extend a veryspecial thanks to the contributors and reviewers for their commitment and patience incompleting this special issue. And we wish that you the reader will find much food forthought, connections, challenges, and new ideas in the papers that follow.Note1. Bylaws, see SatkaDepartment of Social Research, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, FinlandCaroline McGregorSchool of Political Science and Sociology, National University of Ireland,Galway, IrelandAdrienne ChambonFactor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto,Toronto, ON, CanadaEditorial 615Downloaded by
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