Back to department main page
Key themes for abstract submission
Please have a look at our key themes and their content
Knowledge production and public accountability in social work
At its best, social work practice is characterised by creativity and the capacity to adapt its processes to the particular situations which it confronts. Social work practice is often scarcely visible as distinct methodology, as tacit knowledge plays a relevant part in it. Moreover, the different stakeholders involved have often very divergent views on the criteria of good social work. Accordingly, evaluating social work and defining accountability has always been problematic: under this subtheme we invite contributions that face this challenge from a research perspective.

Research in social work as participative learning process
 One of social work’s  main guiding values is to promote an inclusive society. Within this broad goal, participatory research strategies have been developed parallel to participatory intervention approaches, in order to give voice to those who are powerless within the process of knowledge production. What impact has this had on social work methodology generally? What relevant outcomes has this endeavour produced? 

Standing up to complexity – specific and universal issues in social work
Social work research and practice deal with topics and issues that are  both culturally defined and locally grounded. Accordingly, attempts to generalize theoretical and methodological approaches have been perceived by some as a form of colonisation by countries where social work had a longer history and greater influence, over others in which social work is still in a state of development. To this topic we invite contributions which  address  issues of universal validity in social work research or which  discuss how to produce knowledge which can be useful beyond its original local or national context.

 Evidence and uncertainty – pathways to accountable social work research and practice
 The use of knowledge in social work is a long and controversial  issue. It has often prompted heated discussions and polarisation along a line which extends from positivist evidence based practice positions to radical reflective practice stances. The difficulties in using research evidence when facing social works’ daily professional tasks challenge both researchers and practitioners. Submissions are invited that encourage reflection on knowledge generation and on the value of involving a variety of subjects in the construction of practices.

Social diversity: Promoting human rights and the role of research
We are increasingly witnessing contradictory trends in approaches to minorities and diversity: while steps have been taken towards the recognition of the human rights of different minority groups in society, open or covert forms of discrimination on the base of ethnicity, gender, sexual preferences, poverty, age etc. also seem to be on the rise. Research has played, and still has to play, an important  role in developing inclusive practices and educational models. We invite on this topic both empirical explorations and reflections on how research methods and  strategies can  be developed with this focus.

Social work and political action: what has research to do with this?
Many research projects have shown  the problems arising for practitioners in their attempts to link their political perspective with their professional practice. The use of knowledge, developed for  meeting different culturally defined and situation-specific needs at an individual level, proves problematic when translated into generalised political demands  At the same time, social workers are aware that the preservation of social solidarity and hence also of the identity and the mandate of social work with its goal of promoting social justice, requires informed political action. How can research contribute to a better understanding of the multiple sites of social work practice? And what kind of knowledge production could better support the development of practice at the policymaking level?

Call for papers:
1 June 2013 – 3 November

20 December

Early birds:
15 February 2014

Final booking date:
10 March 2014
© UniBz