ERG SES H 02, Intercultural Education
In the last decades, the egalitarian and universalistic approach of European welfare systems has been questioned. Cities have become more diverse, complex and differentiated (Geldof, 2017) and social services are in the search for innovative and cost effective solutions in order to provide necessities that are more suitable and cost effective.
Innovation has become increasingly popular in order to cope with current challenges. The theory of reflexive modernization of U. Beck (Beck, Bonss, & Lau, 2003) contributes to explain the popularity of innovation. In a society where social institutions (family, church, school and politics) are no longer able to make sense of people’s behavior, there arises the need of radical change and innovation. However, the research in social field is still scant and arises manly from economy and management (Kropp, 2017). In reaction to economic and technologist interpretations and applications of innovation, the concept of social innovation is becoming increasingly popular both at political level (Europe 2020 strategy) and scientific level (Crepaldi, Rose, & Pesce, 2012).
The welfare system in South Tyrol also attempts to create new social services or to improve the existing ones (ASSB, 2017; Città di Bolzano, 2015; Elsen, 2015). This research project aims to observe the implementation of a new service in the field of early child interventions in a district of Bolzano. Early child interventions are in Italy still a novel field of study that requires a multidisciplinary and a collaborative approach in order to deliver the appropriate services for families with children in 0-3 year age (Ladurner, Tauber, & Hainz, 2016).
I will look at those criteria of social innovations that pay attention to inclusion processes. Moulaert defines social innovation as “innovation in social relations” (Moulaert, 2014, p. 2) which contributes in” finding acceptable progressive solutions for a whole range of problems of exclusion, deprivation, alienation, lack of wellbeing and also to those actions that contribute positively to significant human progress and development.” (Moulaert, 2014, p. 16). Other authors point out a shift from industrial approaches towards more reflexive processes. The changes in relations are becoming of strategic importance, towards a cultural change related to wellbeing questions (Evers & Ewert, 2015).
Social work may be a paradigmatic field because of its relationship-centered mandate (Facchini & Lorenz, 2013). The issue is to observe how social services respond to the increasing diversification of society and under which conditions those processes are innovative. The question is how to be inclusive toward diverse clients and needs bearing in mind the inherent dilemma of social work which attempts to normalize people but at the same time has the mission to empower excluded or emarginated individuals and groups (Lorenz, 2017b), balancing between the universal access to social services and individual rights (Martinelli, 2014).
The problem of access in health services and health-related social work, but also in general social work practice, has been highlighted by several case studies (Barberis & Boccagni, 2014). On the other hand, there is evidence of increasing participation request of a greater inclusion of individuals (Elsen & Lorenz, 2014; Fargion, Frei, & Lorenz, 2015). The latter trend points out the increasing importance of the community and the civil society also for social work, suggesting a broader approach to governance based on interaction and negotiation (Ambrosini, 2017).
It will be important to consider the complex interplay of social and economic relations going beyond the conventional focus on ethnicity (Vertovec, 2007) and “embedding diversity in any specific context of social work practice, rather than using it as a principled and abstract category” (Boccagni, 2015, p. 69).
This research project aims to observe with a case study the conditions in which diversity triggers social innovation. I will look at a social service (public or private) in South Tyrol, which is going to develop a new service or to innovate an existing one in order to assess to what extent this process could be considered innovative. I will subsequently compare the results with the criteria of social innovation, which will be selected examining the current theoretical approaches. The case study will focus on the implementation of a new service in the field of early childhood intervention in a district of Bolzano. The Case study is a qualitative method that aims to provide an in/depth investigation of a phenomenon within its real life context (Kirby, Greaves, & Reid, 2010) and responds to “how” and “why” questions. The theoretical framework of social innovation indicates a paradigm shift to knowledge as co-construction (Moulaert, 2009) which implies not doing research on people but rather with and for people (Lorenz, 2017a). “A collaborative and inclusive approach to research has the distinct advantage of fostering the development of multidirectional learning among all research partners” (Kirby et al., 2010, p. 7).Gibbons defines this kind of knowledge as context-sensitive knowledge (Gibbons, 2000) because it involves multiple interactions and perspectives. Qualitative semi-structured interviews, participations to meetings and site visits will be the selected methods which will be integrated by feedback moments with the participants in order to foster the reflexivity process “focusing on transparency and positionality, voice and representation and the ethical issues in a collaborative work” (Kirby et al., 2010, p. 256) between the researcher and the actors involved. Documentary analysis of internet sources, scientific literature, relevant statistics about the organizations involved as well as the legal framework will be collected. Case studies require and holistic approach In order to triangulate the gathered data.
The research project will contribute to reflect about innovative practices in the field of social services focusing on diversity and social innovation. The aim is to critically analyze the practices in order to highlight the capacity of social services to react to new and complex needs, considering as well the complex interplay of public and private actors, which interact in the complex network of governance of the welfare mix system. The observation of an innovation process will open up spaces for reflection among practitioners and professionals which are particularly needed in Italian social work (Barberis & Boccagni, 2017). The reflection will include the role of social work paying attention to the community in which users and practitioners are embedded and the integrations processes between organizations and professions (Ferrari, 2012). The research project will evaluate to what extent social services are open or closed to diversity contributing to highlight suitable settings and conditions which contribute to the innovation process, assessing if and how those practices are embedded in the context. This means thus to open with social workers a reflexive process, valuating and fostering their knowledge and skills.
Ambrosini, M. (2017). Superdiversity, multiculturalism and local policies: a study on European cities. Policy & Politics, 45(4), 585/603. Barberis, E., & Boccagni, P. (2017). Il lavoro sociale con le persone immigrate: strumenti per la formazione e la pratica interculturale nei servizi. Santarcangelo di Romagna (RN): Maggioli. Beck, U., Bonss, W., & Lau, C. (2003). The Theory of Reflexive Modernization. Theory, Culture & Society, 20(2), 1–33. Boccagni, P. (2015). (Super)diversity and the migration–social work nexus: a new lens on the field of access and inclusion? Ethnic and Racial Studies, 38(4), 608–620. Elsen, S., & Lorenz, W. (2014). Social innovation, participation and the development of society = Soziale Innovation, Partizipation und die Entwicklung des Gesellschaft. Bolzano: Bolzano University Press. Evers, A., & Ewert, B. (2015). Social Innovation for Social Cohesion. In Nicholls, A., Simon, J., & Gabriel, M. (2015). New Frontiers in Social Innovation Research. Palgrave Macmillan (pp. 107–127). Facchini, C., & Lorenz, W. (2013). Between differences and common features: The work of social workers in Italy. International Social Work, 56(4), 439–454. Fargion, S., Frei, S., & Lorenz, W. (2015). L’intervento sociale tra gestione del rischio e partecipazione. Roma: Carocci Editore. Ferrari, M. (2012). La sostenibile leggerezza del welfare? Opportunità, insidie e traiettorie a livello locale. Autonomie Locali E Servizi Sociali, 35(1), 35–50. Geldof, D. (2017). Social work and research in contexts of superdiversity. In Høgsbro, K., & Shaw, I. (2017). Social work and research in advanced welfare states. London and New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group (pp. 31–46). Gibbons, M. (2000). Mode 2 society and the emergence of context-sensitive science. Science and Public Policy, 27(3), 159–163. Kirby, S. L., Greaves, L., & Reid, C. (2010). Experience, Research, Social Change : Methods Beyond the Mainstream. (U. of T. Press, Ed.) (2. ed. .). Ladurner, C., Tauber, S., & Hainz, W. (2016). Frühe Hilfen Südtirol. Forschungsbericht. Autonome Provinz Bozen, Forum Prävention Lorenz, W. (2017a). Diversities and patterns in social work and research in advanced welfare states. In Høgsbro, K., & Shaw, I. (2017). Social work and research in advanced welfare states. London and New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group (pp. 19–30). Moulaert, F. (2014). The international handbook on social innovation : collective action, social learning and transdisciplinary research. Cheltenham Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar. Vertovec, S. (2007). Super-diversity and its implications. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30(6), 1024–1054.
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.