Call for Papers: Social Work at the Crossroads – Challenges for European Societies: the PhD Pre-conference

Plenumi i 11 vjetor i TiSAA: Pre-conference e Rrjetit te PhD-ve. 23-25 gusht 2013. E vlefshme si konference nderkombetare, ne kuadrin e detyrimeve shkencore per mbrojtje te titujve shkencore. 

11th annual TiSSA Plenum August 26 to 28, 2013 & PreConference of the PhD-Network August 23 to 25, 2013 in Tirana, Albania (

There is a growing consensus that European societies are drifting towards conditions in which people feel trapped in inequality and are threatened with poverty and exploitation on account of their membership of specific groups or classes.
This has immediate precarious and existential consequences for the possibility of planning one’s life. We experience circumstances of constant social risks which are prescribed increasingly by capitalist rather than by democratic principles. The deepening split between the poor and the rich parts of society in all EU countries increases the number of those seeking social assistance in quantitative and qualitative terms to such an extent that the limits of welfare solidarity are being severely tested. These impacts on the entire range of personal social services with the result that staff are overworked while at the same time their working conditions worsen as a consequence of capitalist market principles being introduced in service agencies. This is for instance reflected in dramatically reduced or principally inadequate pay structures for staff. Service agencies direct their attention pragmatically to criteria of efficiency and output measures according to indicators defined in managerial terms instead of being oriented towards quality criteria worthy of being termed “professional”. It can be observed that a neo-liberal habitus has become established in the thoughts and actions of personnel in social services. In many sections of social work this steering mechanism has become established in daily practices to such an extent that it is no longer being questioned. However, a modern, critical version of social work is always aimed at achieving solidarity and justice for those who suffer existentially under prevailing social conditions and are being prevented from finding their own sustainable solutions to their particular circumstances. Social solidarity cannot be restricted to containing socially deviant groups and to simply concentrate on their adaptive behaviour to intolerable conditions and to limit social support measures ever more stringently. The need to reaffirm social solidarity and justice today challenges the current practice of channelling socially weak and oppressed persons into cul-de-sacs. It seeks instead to strengthen their capacity to widen their horizon of possibilities and perspectives for a life which they can see as rewarding and acceptable. These aims require a European social model and a collective professional identity of social work.
How can social work in Europe be rescued from its further instrumentalisation by neo- liberal calculations of containment and an affirmative approach of managerialism? How can social work react against becoming embedded in neoliberal power structures? These are the questions, to which this year’s TISSA-conference is trying to find answers in relation to the various fields of practice in European countries.

The PhD PreConference in conjunction with the TISSA conference from August 23 to 25 provides a unique opportunity for PhD students who conduct research in the overall field of social services and related social problems to present their results or ‘work in progress’. A board of professors of international standing from a variety of countries will form a panel to comment on the presentations and will be available for any further guidance. The PhD PreConference offers therefore a very valuable occasion to engage in comprehensive networking with colleagues from other European countries, and to further one ́s own academic and professional development.

All colleagues are cordially invited to send an abstract (1-2 pages) to the TiSSA coordinator: Submissions can either represent reflected practical experiences, empirical research or theoretical concerns. A scientific committee will evaluate all incoming abstracts. Presentations will be limited to max. 20 minutes. Points for subsequent discussions are welcome. For all colleagues intending to give a paper either for the TiSSA Plenum or for the PreConference of PhD-Network the deadline for the announcement of the abstract is June 30th, 2013.

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