The theme of diversity stands as a crucial concern for social work, since those studying, teaching, and carrying out research in social work occupy a wide range of backgrounds and social positions. Furthermore, social work encounters take place in diverse and often multilingual environments with people from varying life situations and positions. Valuing diversity also remains an important ethical principle of social work.
As a theme and concept, diversity is linked to inequality and discrimination given that different social positions shape people’s possibilities in society. A recognition of diversity is insufficient, instead serving as a starting point for unveiling discriminatory structures and practices as well as for dismantling them.
A robust take on diversity involves a critical examination of the roots and history of social work. During Social Work Research Days, three perspectives on diversity will be discussed. First, we will discuss the decolonisation of social work — that is, unraveling the colonialist heritage that has shaped social work throughout its history and continues to do so today. Another key aspect is intersectionality through which it is possible to examine how different social categories and their intertwining construct positions, shape experiences in society, and produce inequality. Thirdly, we wish to extend a human-centered interpretation of diversity to include nature and an ecological perspective in the quest of transforming society and promoting social justice in social work.
During Social Work Research Days, we will discuss the status of people from different backgrounds as social workers and as service users, as well as how we can promote equity and solidarity through social work in changing environments.
Place: University of Helsinki, Main building, Festive hall