Post-Soviet and Post-Socialist Social Work

The Post-Soviet and Post-Socialist Social Work special interest group brings together scholars who study social work in the post-Soviet and post-socialist contexts. We believe that it is important to take a critical and reflective look at the paths and roles taken by social work in these changing societies. Professional social work had no or little place in the Soviet and socialist welfare systems run and implemented solely by the state. The collapse of state socialism three decades ago has created political opportunities and pressing social needs for social work as a new (or revived) welfare institution and a field of practice. The (re)introduction of social work in the region has been a contradictory and non-linear process shaped by nation-building processes, global, national and local actors. The (re)emergence and development of social work indicates major social transformations in post-socialist and post-Soviet societies: (a) a shift from universal, non-discriminatory public welfare to targeted social assistance programs; (b) a move from social protection directed by the state to the civil society’s involvement in welfare provision; and (c) the development of a variety of professional practices with individuals and groups.

We are using the terms “post-Soviet” and “post-socialist” to suggest that these two families of states share a common past and that they differ from one another. Also, these terms do not imply that there is no continuity between the Soviet/socialist past and capitalist present; these terms are used to simply mark the historical period covered by this analysis, that is, the period started in the 1989-1990 with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc.

The new ESWRA group offers a platform for sharing knowledge, multidisciplinary methodologies, and diverse perspectives to reflect on the development of post-Soviet and post-socialist social work. New understandings will be used to assist the development of professional social work in a variety of post-Soviet and post-socialist contexts as well as to contribute to social work theory and research methodology. The SIG also seeks to create a relevant platform to critically engage with existing approaches to comparative international research and explore possible innovative methodological approaches for comparative research and theory generation ‘from within’.

The members of this SIG will convene at annual ESWRA conferences to share their empirical research findings and methodological and theoretical discussions. Apart from the annual conference, the SIG will function as an international community of scholars using various means of communication, such as email, skype conferences, and social media. In a long run, the SIG will also look for opportunities for other types of research projects, such as international studies, special issues of journals, and books on post-Soviet and post-socialist social work.

Convenors: Dr Sue Taplin & Dr Jovana Škorić

Dr Sue Taplin, Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Gloucestershire

Dr Jovana Škorić, University Of Novi Sad, Faculty of Philosophy, Social Work Programme, Republic of Serbia, email: