The core research fields of the Social Work division

Social intervention
Social workers often provide support to people in difficult life situations, such as children in a family who need protection from violence, working adolescents who require advice, unemployed adults participating in integration programmes and pensioners on a low income who apply for supplementary benefits. The objective of interventions of this kind by social workers is to restore the individual's capacity for self-determination and active participation in society. At the core of our research activities is the question of where and how social workers should intervene. We therefore place an emphasis on child protection, the provision of support to adults, families and victims, social welfare, work with offenders and analysis of the criminal justice system. We feed the resulting research results back to field workers and jointly develop 'best practice' guidelines for social interventions.

Social organisation

Social workers, irrespective of whether they work in social services, hospitals or schools, are integrated into a multitude of different organisations. Not only do these work in very different ways but their structures also influence how social workers approach their routine work. We investigate the interaction between social work and organisational structures and study issues of control, quality and social integration. We use the results to determine what organisational forms are appropriate and provide relevant advice to organisations in the social work and healthcare sectors. Social organisation is also the focus of our Master's degree programme.

Social security

Social insurance programs, such as social security and survivors’ benefits, disability insurance, unemployment insurance, and social assistance or welfare, have been developed to insure against poverty and to spread risk across the population and generations. Our research focuses on these welfare state programs, examining the causes and consequences of their design, the interactions between programs, and their coevolution with the social and economic context. Given this focus, our research addresses questions such as: How has the risk of poverty evolved and how should our social insurance system respond to those changes? Which performance, control, and financing models make for more effective integration programs? We pose these and many other questions relevant to the welfare state, taking social, economic and legal perspectives.

Old age

The multidisciplinary Institute on Ageing investigates issues of independent living and social participation in old age. It concentrates on social relationship and support networks, elderly workers as well as questions of integration and old-age care as important topics of the future.