Social work
The discipline of social work examines people’s wellbeing and how it can be affected. The focus is on social conditions in which individuals and communities operate. Particular attention is paid to social justice and equality and their achievement in people’s daily lives. The research examines the conditions required for people to function and survive day-to-day, the continuums and discontinuities of everyday life, and professions and institutions in the social services sector.
Research profile

The discipline of social work at the University of Helsinki conducts research on topical social phenomena and their backgrounds. Research themes include wellbeing at different stages of life, relationality and community activity, as well as social problems and everyday challenges.

A special strength of the discipline of social work at the University of Helsinki is practice research which incorporates the development of social services, the production of new knowledge and the provision of academic teaching. Practice research produces knowledge and methodological skills that benefit society and have practical relevance for work in the social services sector by establishing the different stages of the research process on an innovative basis that combines academic research with practical expertise.

Current research themes include the Finnish social and healthcare reform and its impact, the integration of immigrants, the provision of functional services for children and families, and the social exclusion of the elderly.

Research projects

Social work researchers are involved in several research projects. All research projects and publications involving the discipline are listed in the research portal.

  • Connection between theory and practice in the development of professional competence (KäyTe project), Aino Kääriäinen and Heidi Muurinen, 2015–ongoing
  • Child custody evaluation reports by social services staff in the resolution of custody disputes, Aino Kääriäinen
  • Deinstitutionalisation of child protection in Russia, Academy of Finland, Kone Foundation, Maija Jäppinen, 2016–ongoing
  • Gerontological social work and complex needs of older adults (page in Finnish). Group: Marjaana Seppänen, Ilkka Pietilä, Mia Niemi ja Tiina Soukiala (University of Helsinki), Elisa Tiilikainen, Riitta-Liisa Kinni, Jenna Hirvonen ja Suvi Ruotsalainen (University of Eastern Finland), Minna Zechner, Pia Skaffari, Eeva Rossi ja Anne Korpelainen (University of Lapland). 
  • Social Inequalities and Discourses of Violence, Kone Foundation, Maija Jäppinen, 2017–2020
  • Immigrant families” as a moral and social category in social work, Maija Jäppinen
  • Sense of community among elderly men in a manufacturing town, Marjaana Seppänen
  • Reducing old age exclusion, European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST), Marjaana Seppänen
  • Relationality of death, Kone Foundation, Marjaana Seppänen, 2016–ongoing
  • Multiprofessional study on the wellbeing of young Helsinki residents who have received after-care welfare services as well as social and healthcare services. The research data include client documents and interviews with experts. The study describes the support needs indicated in plans, and analyses teamwork and the management of after-care welfare services. Mirja Satka
  • Social work in the teaching field of healthcare in Uusimaa province 1950–1958. The study analyses the tensions in multiprofessional collaboration from the perspective of a social worker and in the light of archival material. Mirja Satka
Study op­por­tun­it­ies in the dis­cip­line
Com­munity re­la­tions and pub­lic en­gage­ment

Key organisations involved in public engagement in connection with the University’s discipline of social work include the Heikki Waris Institute and Mathilda Wrede Institute; the Praksis network in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, within which the University of Helsinki cooperates with municipalities in the region; the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa; centres of excellence in the social welfare sector; and NGOs such as the Kalliola Settlement (in Finnish) and Osallisuuden aika association. Important partners in research and development also include the National Institute for Health and Welfare, centres of excellence in the social welfare sector in the Uusimaa region, and the FSKC.


For more information about research and grant-funded researchers, see the University of Helsinki research portal.

Discipline coordinator: Professor Maritta Törrönen

Show less info
Show less info
Show less info
Show less info
Show less info
Show less info
Show less info
Show less info
Show less info
Contact information

Postal and street ad­dress

PO Box 54 (Unioninkatu 37)

00014 University of Helsinki

Infor­mation for me­dia

Services for press and media

Published on
5 months 2 weeks ago