Keynote Speakers

Walter Lorenz is a Visiting Professor for Social Work at Charles University, Prague. He was from 2001 until 2017 Professor at the Free University of Bozen / Bolzano in Italy, where he coordinated a professional social work programme and was also Rector from 2008 to 2016. A native of Germany, he qualified as a social worker at the London School of Economics and practised this profession in East London before taking up a position as lecturer of social work at University College, Cork in Ireland in 1978, where he became Jean Monnet Professor in 1995. His research interests include intercultural pedagogy, social pedagogy, comparative aspects of social work and social policy in Europe and quality standards in social services. He was awarded honorary doctorates from the universities of Ghent and Aalborg.

Keynote lecture: Thursday, November 22nd, 2018, 9:15-10:15, Porthania Building (Street address: Yliopistonkatu 3, Gatuadress: Universitetsgatan 3), Lecture hall PI (1st floor)

Power, Authority and Accountability in Social Work – Facing Up to the Challenges of a Consumer Culture

Social workers’ attitude to the use of professional power has always been ambiguous. This relates back to their uncertain grounding in a scientific discipline that gave other professions an unambiguous power position, but also to their ethical (and practical) commitment to not wanting to impose expert treatment regimes on vulnerable clients whom they wanted to empower. Nevertheless, social work has a safeguarding function, both in relation to the wellbeing of individuals and the security of society which requires the use of legitimate authority. In the contemporary social policy context in which tendencies to de-professionalise many public services, to re-define clients as customers and to impose managerial controls on professional autonomy permeate practically all European countries the ‘traditional’ dilemma of social workers concerning their power re-emerges in changed forms. This presentation attempts an epistemological and ethical way forward through the affirmation of core competences that constitute the professional specificity of social work.

Virginia Eubanks is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University at Albany, SUNY. She is the author of Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor; Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age; and co-editor, with Alethia Jones, of Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith. Her writing about technology and social justice has appeared in The American Prospect, The Nation, Harper’s and Wired. For two decades, Eubanks has worked in community technology and economic justice movements. Today, she is a founding member of the Our Data Bodies Project and a Fellow at New America.

Keynote lecture: Thursday, November 22nd, 2018, 10:45-11:45, Porthania Building (Street address: Yliopistonkatu 3, Gatuadress: Universitetsgatan 3), Lecture hall PI (1st floor)

Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police and Punish the Poor

In Automating Inequality, Virginia Eubanks systematically investigates the impacts of data mining, policy algorithms, and predictive risk models on poor and working-class people in America. The book is full of heart-wrenching and eye-opening stories, from a woman in Indiana whose benefits are literally cut off as she lays dying to a family in Pennsylvania in daily fear of losing their daughter because they fit a certain statistical profile. "This book is downright scary,” says Naomi Klein, “but with its striking research and moving, indelible portraits of life in the ‘digital poorhouse,’ you will emerge smarter and more empowered to demand justice.”  Join us for a rousing conversation about this timely and provocative book.

Dorte Caswell, Ph.D. and Associate Professor, has been working at Department of sociology and social work, Aalborg University, Denmark since 2012, but has done research in social work for much longer and has been participating in most of the Nordic FORSA conferences since 2003. She currently heads the research group SAB – Social Work at the Frontline of Social and Employment Policy. Her current research focuses on bridging political science and sociological approaches in understanding social work practice and the way the Danish welfare state has developed, understanding its current state including its organizational and professional aspects, and understanding the implications current welfare policy have for the most vulnerable clients.

See Caswell's AAU Personal Profile for more information.

Keynote lecture: Friday, November 23rd, 2018, at 09:00-10:00, University of Helsinki Main Building (Street address: Fabianinkatu 33, Gatuadress: Fabiansgatan 33), Lecture hall 1 (New side, 2nd floor)

The Devil in the Detail – Doing Social Work Under the Canopy of Active Labour Market Policy

Active labour market policy, also often referred to as activation, welfare-to-work, work-first or social disciplining policies, as a policy area has grown vastly since the early 90’s both in the Nordic countries, Europe and beyond. These policies have increasingly included individuals that are more vulnerable as part of the target group. It is thus essential to the field of social work to further our understanding of this policy development and its implications for clients as well as professionals. Recent Street-level bureaucracy research has focused on the value of ethnographic approaches and of responsiveness in interactions. The keynote will bridge policy development with the communicative work done at the frontline of the welfare state. Drawing on ongoing research, the keynote will address how active labour market policy is talked into being in meetings between social workers and vulnerable unemployed and how we need a new approach to helping the hard-to-place unemployed.

Helena Blomberg-Kroll is a Professor of Social Work and Social Policy and Vice Rector at the Swedish School of Social Science, University of Helsinki. She has been one of the team leaders within the Nordic Centre of Excellence: The Nordic Welfare State –Historical Foundations and Future Challenges and is currently one of the scientific coordinators for the consortium project “Tackling Inequalities in Time of Austerity”. Her research interests regard social workers’ well-being and attitudes toward welfare policies in a comparative perspective and policy changes and agenda setting power in the welfare state. In her latest project, she focuses on how various, concurrent tendencies of decentralization and individualization, as well as centralization and standardization regarding social services and last-resort benefit systems affect welfare provision and service outcomes among different vulnerable groups in society.

Keynote lecture: Friday, November 23rd, 2018, at 10:30-11:15, University of Helsinki Main Building (Street address: Fabianinkatu 33, Gatuadress: Fabiansgatan 33), Lecture hall 1 (New side, 2nd floor)