FPRWS: Fairness, Personal Responsibility and the Welfare State

The aim of the FACSK project was to describe and analyse how social workers that work with families across different contexts understand notions of family and how they describe their practices with families in four service areas: child welfare, addiction, migrating families and mental health. 


There are substantial differences in how the notion “family” is expressed on macro and meso levels in the four regime-types that the project has explored, ranging from familialised to individualised notions. Differences in how “family” is conceived are reflected in national regulations, service structures and social workers’ priorities. Mental health and addiction treatment are relatively individualised in Scandinavia, while less so in the more familialised countries. On the other hand, child welfare services are more family-oriented also in Scandinavia. The area of migration services contains many complexities due to different patterns of migration (refugees, labour, transit etc.). Professional discretion appears to be comparatively limited in some countries due to regulative structures (as in UK) and/or access to resources (as in Lithuania and Bulgaria). In spite of system differences, social workers in all countries share mostly similar understandings of the relevance of family ties, as resources in their work. This shared understanding may indicate that a “global social worker ethos” plays out as an aspect of discretion and of increasingly harmonised social work education. Notable though, are the differences in the emphasis on the nuclear family (e.g. Lithuania), vs. more openness towards alternative family forms in other countries.

End-users from policy-makers to social workers will gain new knowledge about different conceptions of the family and services provided. Social policies have, with different degrees in European and Latin American countries, integrated specific cultural roots in which the family has the role to face social problems. The project addressed the improvement of competences for students and people working with interventions for vulnerable children and marginalised families. It follows the Europe 2020 (new skills for new jobs) and Lisbon Treaty goals of providing professionals with improved competencies to match the need of the labour market and to promote social cohesion and inclusion.

Research Team

Prof. A.W. Cappelen
NHH Norwegian School of Economics

Prof. S. Kuhnle
University of Bergen

Dr. S. Suetens
Tilburg University

Prof. J.R. Tyran
Universität Wien