Urban social work : A scoping review of the conceptualization of urban social work and how urban social work with migrants may facilitate inclusion

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Title: Urban social work : A scoping review of the conceptualization of urban social work and how urban social work with migrants may facilitate inclusion
Author: Asén, Karolina
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, Sosiaalitieteiden laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Research
Helsingfors universitet, Statsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för socialvetenskaper
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2019
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201903041392
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Sosiaalityö
Social Work
Socialt arbete
Abstract: Urban social work differs from social work practice in smaller communities. Most of the social work today is done in cities worldwide due to urbanization. Still it is not clear what urban social work really is. The urban context paradoxically is familiar to social work, yet at the same time it seems evaded. The thesis has two primal aims. One is to examine how social work in urban settings is conceptualized in existing scientific literature. The second one is to contribute to the development of social services for migrants by illuminating what knowledge there is in earlier research about urban social work facilitating migrant inclusion and which the critical elements within the field are. The thesis takes on the critical framework of positional reflexivity. Two methods were used conducting this master´s thesis, a scoping review and an expert interview. The two-staged scoping review strives to find the relevant literature and to systematically delimit the data. The data consists of 17 peer-reviewed scientific articles and an expert interview. The three research questions are 1) How is urban social work conceptualized in existing scientific literature?, 2) What is today's knowledge about urban social work facilitating migrant inclusion from existing scientific literature? And 3) What are the critical elements of urban social work with migrants? The data is analyzed using content analysis. Urban social work is conceptualized in close conjunction with community, however urban communities are changing due to increased mobility and diversity. Urban social workers are working in a myriad of complex social networks and within tensions and boundaries. The rise of emerging concepts like superdiversity, transmigration and gentrification show that urban social work research today is strongly characterized by questions concerning migration. Some factors facilitating migrant inclusion are the need for urban social workers to advocate for structural change of the way urban social work with migrant look like today. Also meeting the superdiverse urban clientele with a cultural humility approach and the acknowledging of the various formal and informal encounters are some of the identified facilitating factors. Significant gaps in social work research concerning urban social work and urban social work facilitating migrant inclusion are identified. Since most migrants arrive to cities and also tend to stay there, the lack of scientific topical knowledge is crucial. The lack of sustainability in urban social work with migrants, the crucial need for structures enabling relational social work and the need for social work to actually start where the clients are turned out to be some of the critical elements. Positional reflexivity turns out to be undetected in many of the included articles on urban social work with migrants, this demonstrates a need for an increased recognition of it within scientific urban social work research concerning of migrants.
Subject: Urban social work
scoping review
migrant inclusion
community approach
complex social networks
positional reflexivity

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