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Doctoral thesis book.

School social work in the context of German and Finnish welfare regimes and child welfare systems

The doctoral dissertation of MA Kathrin Beck will be examined at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies on 6 August 2021.

What is the field of study and topic of your doctoral research?

The overall objective of the study is to investigate the nature and role of school social work within the context of the German and Finnish welfare regimes and child welfare systems based on theoretical examinations and empirical investigations. The observed differences are explained from a systems theoretical perspective and theoretical conclusions are essentially based on the interpretations of differences between the German and Finnish welfare regimes and child welfare systems.

What are the key findings of your doctoral research?

The findings of this study show that the nature and role of school social work in Germany and Finland is interrelated with each country’s respective welfare regime and child welfare system. The interrelations specifically concern the central principles and ideas of the respective welfare regime, as well as the legislative foundations and requirements of the respective child welfare system. While this situation stipulates the similarity between both countries, the respective content arrangements stipulate the differences. While the nature and role of school social work is interrelated with the German and Finnish welfare regimes and child welfare systems, conflicts between legal requirements and professional values, as well as between legal requirements and insufficient time and personnel resources to fulfil them, may lead to work-related stress.

The results are relevant at the scientific, practical, and societal levels. This study clarifies the interrelated nature of school social work in Germany and Finland. It has several implications, from a cross-national comparative perspective, that might expand national discussions. Further, it has mapped the area of cross-national comparative research in school social work and therefore provides interesting knowledge concerning school social work in the two countries to the international scientific community.

How can the results of your doctoral research be utilised in practice?

The scientific findings can not only be used to reflect on professional practice but can also stimulate further developments in school social work practice.

What are the key research methods and materials used in your doctoral research?

For these purposes, four sub-studies, referred to as sub-studies 1 (single-country study), 2 (literature review), 3 (cross-national comparative study) and 4 (cross-national comparative study) were conducted. Each of them focused on a specific aspect with respect to the research objectives established. Sub-study 1, the starting point of this study, had the aim to identify the relevant aspects of the two reference systems, namely, education and child and youth welfare, as well as to clarify the terminological and conceptual diversity of school social work in Germany. Sub-study 2 mapped the field of cross-national comparative research in school social work. Its aims were to discuss central issues within cross-national comparative research, particularly why, how, and what to compare, to clarify methodological challenges and to present main focus areas, comparative countries and school social work practice themes of previous studies and publications. Sub-studies 3 and 4 researched and compared the responses of German and Finnish school social workers to an exemplary case of child maltreatment as well as work-related stressors that accompany them while assessing children’s well-being. The methods included semi-structured interviews, the case vignette technique, computer-guided content-structuring content analysis and a coding process. Additionally, figures were generated with MAXQDA in sub-studies 2, 3 and 4.

 

The doctoral dissertation of MA Kathrin Beck, entitled School social work in the context of German and Finnish welfare regimes and child welfare systems, will be examined at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies. The opponent in the public examination will be Professor Merja Laitinen of the University of Lapland, and the custos will be Professor Juha Hämäläinen of the University of Eastern Finland. The dissertation will be publicly examined both streamed live and in the auditorium MD100, in Mediateknia building of the Kuopio Campus, on 6 August 2021, starting at 12 noon.

Photo available for download.

Public examination online.

Dissertation online.

For further information, please contact:

Kathrin Beck, Kathrin_Beck87@web.de