Professional ambitions and organizational practices

In this project we investigate how well social workers' values, ambitions and professional ideals can be transformed into practice within the framework of various welfare organizations where social work is conducted.

Målade handavtryck på en svart vägg

For many social workers, the core values of human rights and social justice formulated in The Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development: Commitment to Action (IFSW, 2016) and the Global Social Work Statement of Ethical Principles (IFSW, 2018) are central ethical imperative.

However, there is still a broad ignorance, as well as uncertainty, about how positions on human rights and social justice can be transformed into practice. This is particularly challenging in a time of shrinking welfare ambitions and organizations governed by new public management doctrines, when the work situation for many social workers is increasingly characterized by emergency measures, increased administration and reduced discretion.

This research project includes three different sub-studies:

  1. Social workers' professional ambitions
    Within the framework of this sub-study, interviews are conducted with social workers active in various welfare organizations on issues concerning professional ambitions and conditions for working with a rights-based social work.

Espvall, M. (2018) Professional strategies and neoliberal challenges in Swedish social work practice. In: M. Kamali and J.H Jönsson, (eds.) Neoliberalism, Nordic welfare state and social work. Current and future challenges, London Routledge, 148 - 158.

        2. Human and social rights in social work education

To study how well social work educations contributes with  knowledge and reflections on issues related to rights-based social work, a longitudinal study has been conducted for three years that examines students' understanding and application of human rights and social justice.

  1. Career visions of newly graduated social work students
    Which workplaces do social work students choose? In this study, social work students' professional visions and choice of the workplace are examined. Key issues are about knowledge ideals, professional identity, salary, working conditions, and organizational conditions. The study includes all social work students who graduated in Swedish in the spring semester of 2018.

Blomé, H. (2019) Professional ambitions in social work. About newly graduated socionomers' choice of professional careers. Master's thesis in social work, Mid Sweden University.


Project period


Project leader

Majen Espvall


010-142 83 98

Project members

Helen Blomé


010-142 83 62