A2 Review article, Literature review, Systematic review
The contested concept of vulnerability : a literature review (2020)
Vulnerability-käsitteen kiistanalaiset merkitykset : systemaattinen kirjallisuuskatsaus

Vironkannas, E., Liuski, S., & Kuronen, M. (2020). The contested concept of vulnerability : a literature review. European Journal of Social Work, 23(2), 327-339. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691457.2018.1508001

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Vironkannas, Elina; Liuski, Suvi; Kuronen, Marjo

Journal or series: European Journal of Social Work

ISSN: 1369-1457

eISSN: 1468-2664

Publication year: 2020

Volume: 23

Issue number: 2

Pages range: 327-339

Publisher: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13691457.2018.1508001

Publication open access: Not open

Publication channel open access:

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/68174


The concept of vulnerability is widely used in the social sciences as well as in policy making, health and social care services and in social work, referring to a variety of groups or individuals, but it has rarely been theoretically defined or analysed. This article provides a literature review on how vulnerability has been used and defined in academic, peer-reviewed articles published in international social science journals between 2000 and 2016. The aim is to analyse and clarify critically the concept for social work research. The article analyses themes and topics connected to vulnerability, how gender is related to vulnerability and how vulnerability is conceptualised in these articles. The analysis showed that there is an important critical commentary on the concept, but only a few efforts to specify, theoretically analyse, reconceptualise or use the concept in an innovative way. The authors suggest that in social work research, instead of vulnerable groups or individuals we should focus on vulnerable life situations, and the role of the welfare services in reducing but possibly also (re)producing vulnerability. It is also important to recognise the temporal, situational, relational, and structural nature of vulnerability.

Keywords: vulnerability; welfare services; social work; gender

Free keywords: literature review

Contributing organizations

Other organizations:

Related projects

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

JUFO rating: 2

Last updated on 2021-20-09 at 15:43