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Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Nordic Social Work Research

For a Special Issue on
Knowledge, skills and values in welfare-to-work with vulnerable clients

Manuscript deadline
15 August 2022

Cover image - Nordic Social Work Research

Special Issue Editor(s)

Rik van Berkel, School of Governance, Utrecht University
[email protected]

John Brauer, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work, Örebro University
[email protected]

Tanja Dall, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Aalborg University
[email protected]

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Knowledge, skills and values in welfare-to-work with vulnerable clients

In the Nordic welfare states, the social work profession has traditionally held a central position in implementing policy measures seeking to mitigate social problems related to unemployment. Increasingly – and globally – work with unemployed individuals is included in welfare-to-work (WtW) efforts aimed at strengthening the employability, labour-market or social participation of unemployed benefit recipients, by combining disciplining and supportive measures in varying extents.

Such policies have been criticised for hollowing out the welfare state by conditioning social support to disadvantaged client groups. The way frontline workers manage the tensions between institutional policies and professional values in their everyday work is crucial for the welfare of vulnerable clients, and several studies have pointed to the significance of frontline workers’ orientations in implementing welfare policy. Nevertheless, few studies have examined which knowledge, skills and values are present and how they are shaped in everyday work at the front lines of WtW.

There is no agreement on whether to understand this area as de-professionalised administrative work, as an emerging professional field of ‘activation work’ or as a new specialisation of social work. The question remains, then, whether social work can still be considered the referential profession in this context, and, more broadly, how and what new occupational configurations emerge as welfare policies shift.

The special issue will examine the status and development of professional work in the context of WtW by exploring the following questions:

- Which configurations does professional work in WtW settings take? How are established professions such as social work being shaped? What are the contours of an emerging activation profession?

- How does the occupational orientation and rationales of activation workers mediate the implementation of WtW policy? How do national differences in occupational traditions as well as policy design shape frontline work and the outcomes for vulnerable populations?

- What are the challenges and opportunities that follow new tendencies in policy and management (e.g. digitalisation), and how do frontline workers engage with such trends in their everyday work?

The developments are not exclusive to the Nordic setting and submissions from all countries are welcome.

Submission Instructions

The editorial committee welcomes full papers of no more than 7,000 words (including abstract, references and end-/footnotes).

The Guest Editors will conduct an initial screening of submitted papers. Those judged suitable for the special issue will be sent for external review.

The special issue is scheduled for publication at the end of Spring 2023.

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article

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