Foreword by Charlotte Williams1989 as a key moment in the development of international dimensions of social workWalter Lorenz
Communist ideology had denied the existence of 'social needs' and hence suppressed pre-existing forms of social work, which, before in CEE countries, had often developed through international and European exchanges among 'pioneers'. The political hiatus and the newly emerging opportunities for implementing personal social services raises the fundamental question if and in what form social work is needed against this historical background. Reflecting on these developments on the basis of the author's early participation in exchanges after 1989 demonstrates social work's embedding in political processes. The chapter explores how cross-national exchanges can give insights into the extent to which social work can be 'scientifically neutral' and hence universally valid, and the extent to which part attention to cultural, historical, and political specificities plays. They can thereby stimulate a constructive confrontation of social work with national and international politics so that solidarity based on rights is promoted through person-centred interventions.
Beginning anew - Social Work Education in the Czech Republic after the Velvet Revolution Oldrich Matousek, Zuzana Havrdova
Changes in Czech social work education after 1989 were radical and partly influenced by ideas and practical proposals by Western colleagues. However, new concepts and changes in institutions had to confront prevailing values, habits, and normative expectations in the local and national context. Examples demonstrate how the cultural background and collective memory in the country filtered, modified, and integrated the new influences. The changes manifested themselves on several levels -- some were the result of planned institutional changes in education since social work education was clearly located in universities, which opened up research. Others were the more subtle result of attitudes and behaviour patterns by social workers and teachers, which were influenced, more or less, by having lived under different political conditions. This line of analysis focuses particularly on selected major topics in social work education that were discussed in the newly founded Czech Association of Social Work Education.
Nurturing opportunities to advance the European values in specific social and health service contexts -- examples from the Czech Republic
Matej Lejsal, Zuzana Havrdova
The success of introducing so-called European values, which also constitute basic social work values, in Czech social service contexts depended greatly on pre-existing values and on those habits and institutions that developed newly after 1989. Each ideal based on specific values requires its "embodiment" under actual conditions, which promote the realization of some while blocking others. This chapter focuses on two examples where opportunities for introducing social work values in newly developing fields were nurtured through networking and successfully defended against blocking forces. The selected example projects are palliative care in homes for elderly persons and professional supervision in social work. In these examples, the authors picture the multilateral forces, cultural, institutional, legal, and human, which were in action while the European values were being advanced, and draw conclusions for current transformation processes in European societies.
After the divorce -- social work in Slovakia since the peaceful separation of Czechoslovakia
Peter Brnula, Ladislav Vaska
After the "divorce" of Czechoslovakia, the assumption that the common history would set approximately the same pace and direction in the development of social work has not materialized, and social work in both countries (Czech Republic and Slovakia) developed rather differently. By tracing the development of social work in Slovakia from 1993 to the present over several milestones, specific national influences can be identified and illustrated in three areas: the development of social work in the non-profit/civic sector; the development of social work and social services in public administration; the grounding of social education and social work as scientific disciplines under Slovak conditions. The authors relate this to the transformation of the social sphere and social services in Slovakia as the main and often controversial topic of this period. Conclusions are drawn for future development prospects in social work and social services in Slovakia and other countries.
Lithuanian social work's claim to professional autonomy vs. authoritarianism in popular and political culture
Jolita Buzaityte Kasalyniene
Social work in Lithuania is still very young as a profession. It emerged after 1989 from a Soviet statutory, centralized, segregating, stigmatizing, and institutionalized system of social security and social services. The independence of Lithuania from the Soviet Union allowed for a system to be established that is decentralized, shared with non-governmental service providers, professionalized, and oriented towards international principles of human rights and inclusion. However, after 25 years of efforts to create a strong and emancipated profession, also through European networks, social work still has low status and is a poorly paid profession unable to advocate effectively for the clients' and its own rights. This chapter seeks explanations in the effects of both 'path dependencies' in services on authoritarian Soviet attitudes and of neoliberalist policies that dismantle social solidarity structures. It finally explores possibilities of mobilising against these factors in collaboration with training centres in other countries facing similar challenges.
Rebuilding Romanian social work education after 1989 - benefits and constraints from European collaboration
Re-established after more than 25 years of communist ban, social work education in Romania has its own long history. In early 1990, Sociology, Psychology, and Social Work were (re)established as departments in Bucharest, Cluj, and then in Iasi, at the initiative of local professionals who seized the opportunity. Collaboration with (mainly) European social work schools developed and helped to shape the reconstruction process, the educational curricula, and the profession in general, in a rather hostile socio-economic environment. This chapter explores some of the influences on this process of reconstruction, identifying possible benefits and constraints that led to the development of the specific current structure of social work education in Romania as it evolved in the last 30 years, from being merely (re)created to being recognized as a distinct field of study, with the establishment of the first doctoral schools in social work (2019-2020).
Social work between civil society and the state - lessons for and from Hungary in a European context
Gabor Hegyesi, Katalin Talyigas
Hungary provides an example of a country in post-communist transition, where forms of social work had been developed before 1989 as part of a political reform package and a re-emergence of civil society. The hopes for democracy and freedom, which after 1990 brought Western social work scholars directly into contact with Hungarian colleagues, were accompanied by severe economic crises and the emergence of deep social divisions. The political conflicts and government changes that ensued affected social policies and civil society processes and had a profound impact on social work, particularly since the FIDEZ party in government openly pursued its ideology of 'illiberal democracy'. This presents social workers with acute dilemmas between their commitment to ethical principles and core social work values taught in universities and political restrictions on their practice. The chapter focuses on the resilience of professional social workers in the face of these challenges.
Social work education programmes in Russia in light of European collaboration
Michael Rasell, Lincoln UK, Elena Iarskaia-Smirnova, National Research University 'Higher School of Economics', Moscow.
This chapter gives a critical reflection on the changing nature of international influences on social work education in Russia since 1991. It does this by providing a critical commentary around key issues raised through an e-mail questionnaire in 2019 of Russian social work academics about international activities within their departments. Written collaboratively by a Russian and British academic with considerable experience in social work education in Russia, the chapter explores the results, opportunities, and barriers of international collaboration, seeking to offer guidance to academics and practitioners taking part in international projects. The authors emphasise the need to understand how social work and social work education have developed in particular local contexts so that collaboration is relevant and achievable. By highlighting the various institutional factors shaping social work practice, higher education, and international links with Russian organisations, the chapter suggests some ways forward for ongoing cooperation and exchange in the 2020s.
Nordic-Baltic cooperation in social work researcher education: A Finnish perspective on the impact on scientific, historical, and linguistic similarities and differences
Helena Blomberg, Christian Kroll
After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Nordic and Baltic universities became engaged in researcher education cooperation in social work. Finland as a bilingual country (Finnish/Swedish) also shares a long common Nordic history of social policy development, especially with Sweden, but it also could now re-activate its special relationship with Estonia due to the closeness of the Finnish and Estonian languages. Based on interviews with key players in the development of Nordic-Baltic researcher education co-operation initiated by Finland, this chapter explores the scientific prerequisites for and the benefits of joint efforts in Nordic-Baltic researcher education and the impact of various scientific, historical, and linguistic similarities and differences between the countries involved. The ultimate goal is to thereby contribute to the understanding of the dynamics of developing social work research and education in the Nordic-Baltic region as an example of the relevance of linguistic and historical differences and similarities.
European Social Work: lost in translations, united in diversity, or based on common and critical understandings? Lessons from a multilingual university in South Tyrol
Based on the example of the social work programme at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano in the plurilingual border region of South Tyrol, Italy, the chapter highlights potentials and challenges for the development of a distinctive European perspective in Social Work and Social Work Education. Besides the need to combine the analysis of local and national conditions, frameworks, and traditions with intercultural approaches and international comparative perspectives, further steps and efforts are needed to strengthen transcultural and transnational perspectives and efforts of transnational social work knowledge production. Particular attention is also given to challenges related to the use of language and to risks of professional and disciplinary imperialism. The contribution underlines the need of a critical reflexive stance towards social work's positionings and engagement with diversity and commonalities as requirements for the development of a distinct vision of European Social Work.Intra-national similarities and differences in social work and their significance for developing European dimensions of research and education - the case of Belgium
Griet Roets, Nicolas Jacquet, Daniel Zamora Vargas, Martin Wagener, Koen Hermans and Rudi Roose
The linguistic division of Belgium is also reflected in social work. Whereas social work has recently received full academic recognition in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium with BA/MA programmes at the Universities Ghent, Leuven, and Antwerp, in the French-speaking part its full academic status has only been recognized at the BA level. It still depends on 'bordering disciplines' such as sociology and social policy. However, although scholars in both parts of Belgium opened towards different European versions of social work, exchanges in social work research, policy, and practice between Flanders, Brussels, and Wallonia are rare. Structural factors like lack of a lingua franca and the erosion of shared policy, practice, and funding structures obstructed the sharing of social work notions across Belgium. The authors examine historical welfare commonalities and draw on research insights emerging from joint seminars between social work scholars to derive proposals for better utilizing intra-national diversity.
Social work, political conflict, and European society: reflections from Northern Ireland
This chapter explores how social workers deal with the political conflict in Northern Ireland. A brief historical account, which positions the conflict in international contexts, leads to a discussion of the complex contemporary social work role on account of sectarian divisions, the nature of social work organisations, and failures of politics in delivering peace-building measures promised in the Belfast Agreement of 1998. The author researched social workers who experienced the most violent period of the conflict and try to explain these relationships. The author concludes that more radical approaches to social work practice, policy, and education can challenge existing sectarianism and other forms of discrimination, thereby drawing lessons with relevance for the wider European milieu where such forms of conflict increase at a time of shifts to the right and the emergence of new populist, right-wing movements.
Conclusions: Cultural diversity and core principles and values in social work
Walter Lorenz, Zuzana Havrdova, Oldrich Matousek
The concluding chapter sums up the experiences and analyses presented in the previous chapters and reaffirms the constructive confrontation with particularity and universality as a core competence of social work. Focusing on the diverse contexts in the continuously changing scenario of Europe constitutes a valuable resource for social work-study programmes to prepare future practitioners for dealing with the complex interplay between personal social problems and socio-political conditions. Social work has a central responsibility at both levels and can, therefore, also make an important contribution to strengthening social solidarity across European divides.