20th SocNet98 IUW "Social Work and Human Rights - Reflecting Profession and Interventions"


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Workshops 2018


We will  have three time blocks of workshops, please choose one workshop from each time block:

Workshops A1)-A5): Tuesday, 17th, 10-12:30

Workshops B1)-B5): Wednesday, 18th, 10-12:30

Workshops C1)-C5): Thursday, 19th, 10-12:30


A1) Entering the ‘Swamp of Complicity’: The Social Worker between Political Activist and Civil Servant

Richard Groothoff (Hanzehogeschool Groningen, The Netherlands)

Undersigning the certificate of social work is undersigning the declaration of human rights and taking over the torch from the pioneers of the early 20th century such as Jane Adams and Mary Richmond. However, in the daily practice of social work these universal rights are often not even an issue. At least during my practice as a social worker (with refugees!), me and my colleagues were foremost focused on doing it right, instead of doing the right thing. Therefore, the first part of the workshop will focus on an ability which then was missing: moral sensitivity. How do you recognize a situation as morally relevant and what mechanisms tend to moral blindness? Relativism, habitude and supressing moral consciousness, among others, will be issues here. If you have withstood all these mechanisms and beheld your moral sensitivity, then your reward is an, at best, unpleasant position: you are entering the ‘swamp of complicity’: as a social worker, you are aware of the fact, that you are part of a practice where human rights are infringed. Furthermore, you are pressed between two positions which you, as a professional social worker, are not always allowed to take, namely a political activist and a civil servant. In the second part of the workshop I will therefore outline these positions by means of my professional experience as a guardian of refugee minors in the Netherlands. Eventually I will search for a third position to cross the swamp without falling back into moral blindness.

A2) Not a Present, but Fought For: Human Rights, Achieved by Liberation Movements

Prof. Dr. Marianne Hirschberg (Hochschule Bremen, Germany)

Human Rights are not developed by the member states of the United Nations because they thought of them as a nice idea. They were developed because civil rights movements as the women´s movement, the disability rights movement, the gay movement fought for their own rights.

For example, the civil rights movement against racial discrimination, maybe known by famous slogans as “Black is beautiful”, fought successfully against the “separate but equal” treatment of the legal doctrine in United States constitutional law. In theory, it was to create "separate but equal" treatment, but in practice Jim Crow Laws condemned black citizens to inferior treatment and facilities. Education was segregated as many other areas of life. The movement, as well as African liberation movements, were important steps, factors for the development of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1966).

This workshop will debate the development of Human Rights as a political instrument and a theoretically based conceptualization being a foundation for the profession of Social Work.


A3) [Human] Right to Work! Immigrants´ Challenges and Success Stories in Getting Work in Finland

Janina Sjöstrand and Satu Riikonen (HUMAK University of Applied Sciences, Turku, Finland)

In this workshop, we will give a short introduction of different challenges that immigrants and asylum seekers face when trying to enter the labor market. We will give examples of successful methods, which have been used in Finland, in bringing unemployed immigrants and employers closer together. How can we promote immigrants' equal possibilities and rights on the labor market? What can be done to create better employment opportunities and conditions for them? Join our interactive workshop and get new perspectives and knowledge of what work means for human dignity and for integration into society.


A4) Comparing Welfare States – Dead or Alive

Mette Vinggaard and Trine Østerbye Clausen (University College Lillebaelt, Odense, Denmark)

The theme of the lecture is the impact different types of welfare state have on social work. Three different types of welfare state will be explained, and the impact on social work in different countries will be discussed. Students will be participating in a discussion on the subject by drawing on their own experiences from their respective countries. Using Denmark as a case study we want to illustrate how the Danish social system has changed in the recent years concerning the employment and disability areas and how these changes have had an impact on human rights. The lecture is based on student participation and includes group discussions.

A5) Title will be announced soon

N.N. (UCLL – University College Leuven-Limburg, Belgium)


B1) Ethical Dimensions of Social Work Practice

Prof. Dr. Iris Kohlfürst (University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, Linz, Austria), Holger Kühl (Hochschule Bremen), Prof. Dr. Sylke Bartmann (University of Applied Sciences Emden-Leer)

It is characteristic for professional social work to determine its own ethics and values, which of course are based on the human rights and function as a benchmark for professional behaviour. As social work is closely linked to the welfare system of a state and its political and economic circumstances, it not often is easy or even possible to implement the professional ethics. In this workshop we will reflect on the values and standards of social work and how these are (or can be) part of everyday work.


B2) Critical Notes on the Newer Transitions in the Social Domain in the Netherlands

Dr. Nico Marsman (Hanzehogeschool Groningen, The Netherlands)

In recent years, the Dutch social domain was profoundly reformed, and at the same time, this change was accompanied by a major austerity program. My contribution will sketch the outline of this transformation but also give an insight in the underlining political, sociological and philosophical ideas. My point will be that these neoliberal changes in the social domain have grave consequences for a large part of the population in the Netherlands and in particular for the most vulnerable in our society. Their (human) rights have been transformed into provisions. The change as such has been sold to the public as a major improvement because care is now organised in the municipalities, close to the citizen and social workers pay more attention to the strength of the clients to take care of themselves than to the problems they have. Although this rehabilitating strategy has advantages, it also leaves the most vulnerable on their own. It is a rather individualistic and liberal approach that leaves much to freedom of choice. In short, the welfare state retreats and leaves it to the “big society”. Finally I want to pay some attention to the broader picture in which this transformation can be situated with authors like Klein (2017), Kleinpaste (2017), Kok/Wolin (2010), Luyendijk (2017) and others.

B3) The Human Rights Commission in New Zealand: Functions and Interventions

Prof. Dr. Gabriele Schäfer (Hochschule Bremen, Germany)

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled. These rights are expressed both in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948 and through a number of international treaties in this area. Human rights agreements focus on how people live together and tend to set out rules for the relationship between the public and those who govern them.

Examples of human rights include civil and political rights such as the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, equality before the law and the right to be free from discrimination. Social, cultural and economic human rights include the right to participate in culture, the right to work, the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to education.

This presentation begins with an explanation of what are human rights. Next the role of the Human Rights Commission in New Zealand is explored. There are two main pieces of law in New Zealand that specifically promote and protect human rights. One is the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act (1990). The other is the Human Rights Act (1993). This latter piece of legislation sets out the primary functions of the Human Rights Commission. The main focus of the presentation is on the performance of the Human Rights Commission in terms of how it performs the primary functions set out in the Human Rights Act (1993). This part of the presentation looks at the actual interventions of the Human Rights Commission. There will be an opportunity to explore and practice their main intervention, which is mediation, using specific cases the Human Rights Commission was involved with. The workshop will also provide space for a reflection on where this form of intervention connects to topics and target groups of social work.


B4) Title will be announced soon

N.N. (College of Polytechnics Jihlava, Czech Republic)


B5) Title will be announced soon

Monique Bas (PXL Hogeschool Limburg, Hasselt, Belgium)



C1) A Human Rights Perspective on Social Work as a Facilitator of Civic Engagement: The Case of Immigrants and Their Organizations

Prof. Dr. Can Aybek (Hochschule Bremen, Germany)

In a strong democracy the social and political incorporation of all residents, including immigrants and their organizations, should represent primary goal. All members of society should believe that they are represented or at least have the opportunity to be represented in the public realm and that in cases of violation of their rights respective individuals or organizations are being held accountable. Promoting civic involvement, backed up by basic human rights, is a major way of establishing such conditions. Most important basic rights in this realm include that everyone has the right to voice their opinion in a direct or indirect way, every individual and community is being treated equally by the judicial system, and everybody has equal chances of participating in the social and cultural life of a community. This community may stand for a mainstream, majority culture or may represent a minority culture in religious, lingual or political terms. Hence, social work that is based on such a human rights perspective follows the goal of empowering especially members of societal groups who to a lesser degree are endowed with social, economic and cultural capital. The proposed workshop is therefore going to address on a theoretical level the role of civic involvement in immigration societies and its relation to human rights. This mainly theory driven framework is, on a practical level, going to be confronted with some real-world cases in order to point out barriers and discuss difficulties in terms of facilitating such civic engagement.


C2) Communication is a Human Right – Enhance your Communication Skills by using Sign Language

Milena Konrad (Hochschule Bremen, Germany)

This workshop focuses on human rights in the field of social work with reference to people with hearing disabilities. Communication is a basic human right in the sense that it sets ground for participation in societies. Adequate and improved communication skills not only increase, but determine an individual’s participation in an inclusive environment. This workshop introduces you to sign language and its potential to express yourself without (or in addition to) spoken language.


C3) New pedagogical steps with NEET youth in Finland assessment

Johanna Kuivakangas (HUMAK University of Applied Sciences, Jyväskylä, Finland)

In this workshop, the focus is the NEET youth research on young people that are not in employment, education and training and which was carried out 2017 in Finland. The study gave voice for young ones themselves. What is life without work, education or training, and how to manage? What kind of problems do they have, and how do they solve them? In the workshop, we also follow the paths of young people to working life and education, we are exploring participatory and communal methods and discussing the integration of young people into society now and in the future. We also learn new pedagogic ways to support young people in exploring their needs and gaining their human rights.


C4) The Situation of People with Disabilities on the Labour Market – How to realise the demands of the “UN-Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”

Pascal Laun (University of Applied Sciences St. Pölten, Austria)

The workshop will, first of all, give an overview on the situation of people with disabilities in the Austrian and European labour market. Their rights are reflected in relation to the “UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”. A main focus will be the difficulties they are facing and which policies are implemented to contribute to the fulfilment of the demands of the UN Convention, especially from its Article 27. Afterwards, selected national and international best and possible next practices that try to improve the situation of people with disabilities on the labour market will be shown and discussed with the audience to incorporate their opinion and experience with this topic. Finally we will work out which possible changes in social and economic policy are needed to improve the situation of people with disabilities on the labour market, in accordance with the demands of the UN Convention, and discuss them again with the audience. 


C5) Title will be announced soon

Jana Stejskalová, PhD (University of South Bohemia, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic)



Bremen School
of Social Work