European Social Work – A Compendium by Fabian Kessl, Walter Lorenz, Hans-Uwe Otto and Sue White (eds.) analyses fundamental developments shaping social work in Europe at the beginning of the 21st century. A European standard of social work has emerged, but working models for future European social work are still lacking. Therefore the compendium provides an overview of the current transformation process, discusses the various visible and invisible changes and works out where social work is actually positioned in the emerging post-welfare states.
Short vita of the editors in own words:
The editors are a group of four social work and welfare service researchers from Germany, Italy and the UK, who have worked on very aspects of social services and social policy in the last years. But we are all very interested in the connex of social work and society. This has been the basis to come together and work on the “European Social Work Compendium”.
On behalf of the editors Fabian Kessl took the time to answer our 5 questions.
1) Dear Mr. Kessl, please summarize the content of your current publication European Social Work – A Compendium for our readers.
When we take Europe as an evolving, dynamic and transformative reference point in our debates on social work and social policy, it can help to understand better the ethical, political and methodological tensions in which all social work finds itself embroiled. It can help to become more sensitive for the programmatic dimension of a practice perspective we call “European Social Work”. Its social mandate is to engage with these contradictory processes at the level of individuals and social groups on the one hand and a the level of policy making in organisations, institutions and political debates on the other hand. This is all the more necessary in the face of contemporary political moves to re-structure and re-define welfare in practically all European nation states in the direction of privatization, economization and marketisation.
2) What will be the main challenge for your research field in the coming years?
Europeanisation has been a major dynamic in the post-world-war countries. Nevertheless, the nation state has been the major scale for welfare services. Social Services, like social work, have been primarily implemented and realised as national and local agencies. This constellation of an ongoing Europeanisation and still given national ties of welfare have been changed and questioned in the last decades. The process of Europeanisation came to a halt in the last years, institutionally (decelerated EU enlargement) and as well on a political-cultural level (new nationalism); and welfare services have to handle transnationalism (e.g. migration) and globalisation (e.g. cultural communication). Welfare services are therefore much more confronted with the trans- and international dimension on a European level and this context is in a fundamental process of change at the same time. Social Work Research as well as Social Policy Research will have to deal with that developments in the next years.
3) Why would anyone want to pursue research in your field?
The question of an adequate definition of “European Social Work”, based on a theory of European Welfarism will keep us busy in the next years. Correspondingly, we will have to develop and establish European research groups to understand the different phenomena, from migration to diaspora communities as an everyday life practice and context of the people, or from the impact of European legislation to the local and regional differences on the level of social services.
4) Why did you choose your research field? What motivates you in your field in particular?
In times of a convergence of different systems, like the former welfare regimes, on the one hand and a new nationalism and protectionism in different parts of Europe at the other hand, the perspective on the European level is from fundamental interest and relevance. Social work has been transformed quite radically in the last decades already. We have to observe and analyse this process as precise as possible – not at least in regard to the international and transnational level.
5) We are authors with Barbara Budrich because …
… the publisher was very supporting in working on the “European Social Work Compendium” – a quite difficult and time-consuming project. Therefore we respect this support from Verlag Barbara Budrich al lot.
Published by Budrich:
Fabian Kessl, Walter Lorenz, Hans-Uwe Otto, Sue White (eds.): European Social Work – A Compendium