The Main Themes

Social conflict and reconstruction
The restoration of human relations is at the heart of social reconstruction. Ethnic, religious and political conflicts can lead to violence and serious divide between different populations. Communist countries transferred into capitalist ones, other countries dissolved into different independent states: mostly painful processes with discontinuous histories. The approaches to healing and re-shaping the capacities of citizens and societies are in these situations often as diverse as the conflicts themselves. Nevertheless, there is an unequivocally shared goal to re-establish vigorous economic and social activities that contribute to rebuilding society with an improved quality of life. In this light, how can the development of new frameworks, the development programmes and policies, conflict management schemes and citizens’ action groups serve to shape the construction of social relations and institutions with a recent conflicting past? What role do social workers, social pedagogues, educators and service providers play in the reconstruction of societies?   

Individualisation and social cohesion
There is a common notion that a healthy, vigorous society is possible when communities feel a sense of belonging to a greater whole. At the same time, this sense of belonging appears to be at odds with the current forces of individualisation, globalisation and multiculturalism. While it may be premature to suggest the erosion of community, the dynamic transformations taking place to accommodate prevailing realities are impacting on how people act socially. Social workers, social pedagogues, service providers and policy-makers are important players to facilitate new forms of social cohesion and active citizenship. How to bond and bridge social relations in individualised communities?  How can community-based approaches contribute to civil society with multiculturalism and pluralism as inclusive principles? 

Personal engagement and professional accountability
The complex social realities of a neo-liberal society have contributed to the redesign of welfare policies and the criticism that these changes affect the ability of social professionals to carry out their work as professionals of social action. The aim to act in the best interest of the service user becomes ever more challenging in a time of efficiency, performance measurement, quality assurance and evidence-based practice. While there may be agreement on the utility of identifying standards for professional accountability, this standardisation might interfere with the personal engagement of the social professional with user groups. How does the professional improvement of quality relate to the tendency of a growing standardisation of that same profession?How does education respond to the growing standardisation of the profession, including its impact on the identification of relevant professional competences? Are personal commitment and ethical standards opposites of new forms of quality assurance and professional accountability, or do they reinforce each other?

During the conference, the three themes and relevant trends will be developed by distinguished keynote speakers and then further elaborated in debate sessions that target the effect of the trends on social practice, policy and education. Furthermore, the symposia, the workshops and poster presentations will allow for a variety of exchange on issues associated to the three overarching themes. Social actions to be taken are central during these events. The conference will conclude with a drafted statement on the challenges, reflections and conclusions made.

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