Welcome to the website of the DFG Research Training Group “Consequences of Social Services Work”. On our website you can find information about the concept of the research training group, the qualification programme and the work of doctoral students and Postdoc, the applicants and other participants.
Social services work has the central goal of improving the participation opportunities and options for action of the addressees. In public, political and academic contexts, it is increasingly expected to provide evidence of whether or how social services actually achieve their goal. So far, relevant studies have largely followed individual disciplinary logics, so that a heterogeneous landscape of research has emerged. The Research Training Group integrates these different approaches so that the Research Training Group can deal with basic questions of impact research from an interdisciplinary perspective. The young researchers learn about the complexity of impact research and acquire expertise in concrete forms of social services work, so that they can position themselves excellently in a research context that is both nationally shaped and internationally highly relevant.
The five central questions of impact research will be used to realize the interdisciplinary foundation of the Research Training Group and to relate the individual studies of the Research Training Group to each other.
Research Projects of Doctoral Students & Postdoc
Using the example of the “Jugendstrafvollzug in freien Formen” (a technical term for a specialised institution for young prisoners in Germany that provides a certain degree of self-determination during the process of resocialisation), this proposed research project intends to focus on young prisoners as addressees of these educational and resocialization measures. The specialised institutional format is supposed enable the addressees to take on responsibility in regard to their own consequential measures and position themselves as actors during the process of their resocialisation based on their individual background and available resources. The research utilises a qualitative-reconstructive research design to investigate individual consequences for the addressees, while taking the educational-supportive framework of a youth prison into account. Therefore, this multidisciplinary study project touches upon educational science as well as theories related to legal sciences.
In Germany probation service as part of social work in the criminal justice system represents the most important alternative to the penal system. According to the law, the live circumstances of the convicted person play an important role in the suspension of sentence (section 56 of the German criminal code). Following the guidelines from the DBSH (a German professional association of social work), the relatives of the person on probation are also included in the practical probation period. This doctoral thesis focusses on the interface between probationary service work and the social network of its addressees and considers potential interactions. The research project aims to discover implications and consequences the probation service might have for its addressees and their social relations. For this purpose a qualitative network research using case comparison will be conducted.
In this dissertation project the perspective is taken that social action, which includes meaningful action related to other persons, is always marked by a bodily aspect. Therefore it is assumed that also social services work, which is oriented towards its addressees, is bodily steeped. Which consequences of social services work arise in the context of bodily representation, construction and possible transformation of social order is an empirically open question. Based on the work of socio-pedagogical fan projects, the qualitative research design aims to show how the social services work is embodied by the addressees and how the consequences affect the construction/transformation of the addressee’s social reality. Especially the bodily impulse and experience of the fans in the context of football and the accompanying work of the fan projects establish the opportunity to explore the embodied consequences of social services work in differentiated manner.
Since the late 1990s, the policy field of social urban development has received a lot of attention in Germany as a reaction to the increase in social inequality. In such political programs the fields of action of social services work and urban development are programmatically linked: Supported areas should not only be upgraded in terms of urban development and infrastructure, the aim should also be to improve social stability and life opportunities of the local population in these districts by promoting institutions such as neighborhood management, social space work and/or community work. The starting point for addressing is a specifically delimited space and thus the entire population of this space, regardless of the individual use or non-use of social services work. The qualitative research project focuses on spatially located social services work in areas where social urban development is programmatically targeted. The aim of the project is to examine consequences of spatially located addressing processes in social services work against a sociological background. The consequences are explored from the perspective of the addressees.
An increasing health inequality is observed in Germany. With the entry into force of the Prevention Act (PrävG) at the beginning of 2016, the social situation and non-medical health promotion were strengthened. By promoting the self-determined health-oriented actions of the addressees, a contribution should be made to reducing socially-related inequality of health opportunities.
Although empirical studies show that economically disadvantaged population groups do not benefit from the universally oriented health promotion, there are few empirical clues about the considerations of the addressees, their motives and decisions regarding the use or non-use of the offers. What the appeal through the field of social-related health promotion means for the addressees and which consequences they make relevant for their (healthy) life or not, has not yet been empirically investigated so far. It should be the subject of the research work.
The main purpose of residential child care (Heimerziehung) is to ensure the wellbeing of children and adolescents as well as to promote their development, education and participation. In addition, child and youth welfare services shall improve upbringing conditions in birth families. In impact studies on residential child care, which focus on the biographical development of young people, co-operation with (birth) parents is recognised as an important impact factor. Careleaver research and discourses on ombudsmanship in child and youth welfare offer an increasing insight into young people’s perspectives on residential child care (and other forms of upbringing support). How (birth) parents experience residential child care is empirically underrepresented in youth welfare research. The research project focuses on this perspective and examines the consequences of residential child care for parents as addressees of this social services work.
According to german child and youth welfare statistics, the number of procedures initiated by schools to assess a risk to the well-being of a child (§ 8a SGB VIII, German Child and Youth Welfare Code) has risen significantly in recent years. If there is a need for support from the point of view of the youth welfare department, welfare services are often installed. Which mechanisms are relevant that pupils become addressees of child and youth welfare services, is an empirically open question. By using a dispositive analysis this habilitation project will focus how the ‘dispositive of the addressee of youth welfare services (co-)initiated by schools’ is constituted in its powerful connections. In this way, primary and secondary consequences that arise within this complex process for the addressed pupils and other dimensions of the dispositive, e.g. school, youth welfare department or the social welfare service, can be taken into account.
Educational landscapes combine formal and non-formal educational settings (e.g. schools and juvenile facilities) into a comprehensive concept of education that encompasses both formal and informal educational processes. A special feature is the cooperation of different educational institutions within a pedagogically designed spatial area, e.g. in the form of a campus. How young people are produced as users of educational landscapes in campus form has not yet been empirically researched in detail. Therefore, subjectivation processes by and through users are the focus of this doctoral thesis. Accordingly, (self-)subjectivation of young people and (external) subjectivation of users by pedagogical experts will be investigated in order to illustrate the consequences of this process.
Social services as publicly provided ‘pedagogical welfare interventions’ are always an expression of ideas about successfully living together. In this context, social services in democratic welfare states are confronted with the demand to enable and guarantee participation of their addressees. The project investigates how the many and varied opportunities for participation and freedom of action provided by the law and implied by professional standards are perceived by the children and young people in the various residential childcare services. With the help of a qualitative-quantitative mixed-methods design, the participation experiences of the addressees will be examined in the context of organizational structures of out-of-home care in England and Germany in order to consider the consequences of the ‘participation imperative’ for the structure and practice of residential childcare at a bi-national level.
Open child and youth work pursues the programmatic goal of aligning itself with the interests of its target group and addressing all visitors equally. This implies that all young people have a right to participate in the structural co-determination and content of the programmes. Based on the assumption that differentiations are constitutive for social situations, mechanisms of social differentiation processes in the participatory design of open child and youth work are examined. The mechanisms can be explored with an ethnographic approach to be able to highlight everyday practices within youth work in the context of participation and the differences that become relevant with regard to the children and young people. This perspective makes it possible to reconstruct to what extent consequences arise for the addressees of youth work within the framework of the observed practices.
The shortage of treatment capacities in Germany has led to an average waiting time of five months for individuals in need of psychotherapeutic support. Current research suggests that symptoms of panic disorder and agoraphobia often worsen if they remain untreated. To address this outstanding issue, self-guided digital short-term treatments have been permitted that only need to be accompanied by few psychotherapeutic sessions. Via psychoeducation and virtual reality exposure therapy, the treatments are aimed at reducing psychological symptoms for panic disorder and agoraphobia. As it has not been the target of experimental research yet, the present project investigates the efficacy (= intended consequence) of self-guided digital treatment with virtual reality elements for patients with panic disorder and agoraphobia. To detect further (unintended) (secondary) consequences of the treatment, qualitative interviews with patients are embedded in the study design.
The prevalence of anxiety in Germany contrasts with the number of free therapy places available. Many people with anxiety disorders experience long waiting times for a therapy place. Sometimes therapy is not even started because of this. Computer-assisted treatments, which can be used (partly) without the presence of a psychotherapist, make it possible to harness therapy at home. This could reduce and bridge waiting times and relieve therapists.
Previous studies mostly focused exclusively on the effect of therapy on patients. This research project focuses on the perspectives of therapists as addressees of computer-assisted psychotherapy. Data will be collected via a mixed-methods design. This enables the collection of (non-)intended (side-)effects from the therapists’ perspective by means of qualitative methods, which are related to quantitatively determined intended effects on the patients.
Social services work for refugees are particularly exposed to the socio-pedagogical dilemma of help and control: while on the one hand the addressees are considered to have a high need for support, they are confronted repetitively with governmental and social restrictions on the other hand. The resource-oriented empowerment approach addresses this potential conflict with the aim of (collective) self-empowerment. In the academic discourse this approach is criticized, especially because of its insufficient foundation in power theory. The aim of this dissertation is to analyse which understandings of power underlie empowerment projects aimed at refugees. The focus is on the reconstructable consequences in the context of ascribed power (to act) from the perspective of the addressees by means of a qualitative research design.
Family and the associated gender-specific attributions are normative constructs that are constantly changing. In addition to the pluralization of family constellations, the demands on legal guardians and the need for educational assistance are also multiplying. In the discourse on outpatient educational assistance, a ‘gendering’ of socio-pedagogical diagnoses and aid planning with regard to the children and adolescents addressed is becoming apparent. The investigation of legal guardians as addressees of educational assistance from a gender-sociological perspective, on the other hand, has received little empirical attention so far. In this doctoral project, a qualitative design will be used to investigate whether, and if so, how gender constructions are produced in the context of socio-pedagogical family assistance and become effective in the form of (side) consequences for the identity and living conditions of the addressed legal guardians.
Self-help works by uniting individuals into homogenised groups with regard to a problematised characteristic description. This mechanism of action, which is often not questioned in impact studies, is to be reflected in this research project in order to enable an empirically and theoretically saturated description. A major concern is to reconstruct group formation and the construction of a ‘Self’ as subject of self-help. Using a qualitative approach, group formation is viewed as the result of constitutional processes based on descriptions of characteristics. Against this background, the questions will be examined as to which (meaning) attributions the addresses constitute the group as a ‘Self’ and how these processes can be reconstructed in their consequences.
The policy for refugees in Germany is characterised by an administrative management in which decisions are made about the participation perspectives of protection seekers. If Social Services Work is understood as a welfare state arrangement, it is necessary to ask how it is constituted in this field. To fathom the complexity of the powerful processes in the field of refugee policy, the socio-political dimensions are examined by a discourse analysis of individual political programmes and concepts. The reconstructed intended consequences of the Social Services Work will be related to the perspectives of the addressees, which has not yet been empirically researched in detail. These perspectives are explored by qualitative methods in order to investigate the interpretation of Social Services Work by the addressees and the associated (unintended) (side)effects of Social Services Work.
Rural areas make up the majority of Germany’s territory; more than half of the population in Germany lives in the countryside. Despite this fact it is remarkable that social services in rural areas have hardly been systematically researched empirically. At the same time, in professional, scientific, political and social contexts, rural areas are attributed numerous specific characters that would challenge addressees, professionals and municipalities. The aim of the qualitative dissertation project is to examine the consequences of an attributed ‘rurality’ from the perspective of addresses of outpatient social services in rural areas.
Adolescents in challenging youth welfare processes are well-known as ‘System Crashers’. Affected young people act beyond the constructions of normality that are expected of them and their behaviour. The youth welfare system often reacts with exclusion and termination of residential youth welfare measures. In response to this, flexible youth welfare service is set up in some cases with the aim to accompany those affected as unconditionally as possible. In this doctoral thesis, a qualitative research approach is used to investigate the consequences for the subjectivation processes of adolescents as addressees of challenging youth welfare service processes.
The dissertation project focuses on the developments and transformations of youth work in context of digitalisation processes. The principle of youth work is to build on the interests and needs of young people and to gear the services to these. As young people’s everyday practices are increasingly media-related, youth work is required to integrate digital technologies and media into their work and to deal with the challenges caused by digitalisation. The research project aims to find out about the (un-)intended (secondary) consequences of these developments by investigating media practices of professionals and youth people as addressees of digitalisation in the context of youth work using ethnographic approaches in physical and virtual space.
5 Central Questions
- How can consequences of social services work be conceptualized?
- How do consequences emerge?
- How are users involved in the constitution of consequences?
- How can consequences be researched methodologically an methodically?
- How does social services work interact with the identity of users?
The Young Researchers are supported by an interdisciplinary team from social pedagogy, psychology and sociology. Researchers from Germany and abroad are integrated into the Research Training Group, to realize broad international and interdisciplinary support. This corresponds to the fact that research into the consequences of social services work cannot be carried out by a single method or discipline, but rather refers to complex fundamental questions that need to be addressed in the academic exchange between different disciplines and research approaches.
The participating scientists have been working together for a long time on the research questions of the Research Training Group. A preliminary study was also carried out, the central findings of which were published by Beltz Juventa in 2017: “Folgen sozialer Hilfen. Theoretische und empirische Zugänge”. On this page you will find an overview of relevant publications of the participants.