A1 Journal article (refereed)
Next-generation modelling of community work and structural social work in Finland (2022)

Matthies, A.-L. (2022). Next-generation modelling of community work and structural social work in Finland. Nordic Social Work Research, 12(2), 229-242. https://doi.org/10.1080/2156857x.2021.1968474

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsMatthies, Aila-Leena

Journal or seriesNordic Social Work Research



Publication year2022

Publication date23/08/2021


Issue number2

Pages range229-242


Publication countryUnited Kingdom

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessPartially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/77464


The recently reformed Finnish Social Welfare Act obligates public social work to enact structural social work, and to address the community- and structural-level social problems behind individual cases. This article examines how community work and structural social work are conceived by early career social workers. The empirical data consists of 26 project plans by social work Master’s students studying in a working life-based part-time programme. The data includes designs for community work or structural social work to be applied in practice to address a real social problem or issue identified by the students in their working environment. The designs are analysed by content analysis and related to the theoretical categorizations of community strategies by Rothman, the community work models by Popple, and the task fields of structural social work by Pohjola. However, the strong evidence of mixed models in the results allows to suggest that categorizations as theoretical-conceptual frames are rather useful for identifying rich diversities and combinations, instead of clear-cut categories of community work and structural social work. The designs reflect the challenges created by the managerialist service systems themselves. They seek more cooperative structures to meet the real-life needs of local communities. It can be concluded that structural social work can become a powerful approach when taken as a legal mandate in the hands of early career social workers, enacting community and political perspectives in Finnish social work at all levels. This requires that they will not be prohibited or tamed in its applications.

Keywordssocial workstructural social worksocial workerssocial welfaresocial servicessocial sectordevelopment (active)communities (organisations)cooperation (general)communalityservice systemsSocial Welfare Actsocial problems

Contributing organizations

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2022

JUFO rating1

Last updated on 2024-03-04 at 19:56