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 editors: Matthies, Aila-Leena

Journal or series: Nordic Social Work Research

ISSN: 2156-857X

eISSN: 2156-8588

Publication year: 2022

Publication date: 23/08/2021

Volume: 12

Issue number: 2

Pages range: 229-242

Publisher: Routledge

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/2156857x.2021.1968474

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially 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.

Keywords: social work; structural social work; social workers; social welfare; social services; social sector; development (active); communities (organisations); cooperation (general); communality; service systems; Social Welfare Act; social problems

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2022

Preliminary JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 14:09