SOS: the future of social work is at stake!

Photo © Ioomyz
Photo © Ioomyz
Katia Gandolfi
27 April 2010

From 22 to 23 March, the 2nd International Conference of the Swiss Society of Social Work was organized at the International Conference Centre in Geneva. In a context of crisis, the future of social work is at stake! It was around this risk, in connection with the fight against poverty and exclusion, that the reflection of participants was conducted.

More than a hundred researchers, practitioners and teachers of social and related disciplines are examined during two days in dense exchanges on the role and means of action of social work in times of crisis.

In line with the European Union, which spent the year 2010 in the fight against poverty and social exclusion, the questions were structured mainly around this problem. As noted Lothar Böhnisch, professor at the Free University of Bolzano, opened the first plenary lecture, poverty has become a focus of social policy in recent years. However, his perception has changed. It is no longer synonymous with poverty only to mean "pecuniary" the term but also social exclusion. The effects of the current socioeconomic crisis has not only changed the conditions of poverty and social exclusion, but they also questioned the modes of action of social work which must necessarily be redefined taking into account these changes.

Social work was originally developed to address the consequences of industrial capitalism, but now he must confront the "digital capitalism" which, itself, has led to new abuses such as a weakening social of the social state, an individualization of poverty and a growing division between rich and poor. According to Lothar Böhnisch, precarious increasingly important social causes too many fears and uncertainties that social work is supported as before. Within this volatile environment, social work tends to be excluded and different perspectives must be considered to counter this trend.

Indeed, the objective of this conference, held this year in western Switzerland by the Swiss Society of Social Work (SAAW) in collaboration with the School of Social Work (HETS) was to propose ways of thinking about the challenges Current social work and its future, and to develop actions, both in theoretical and methodological practice.

With this in mind that other issues around the relationship between social work, civil society and public policy have been discussed at various forums, workshops, symposia and plenary lectures, giving new light on contemporary social issues.

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