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There are two tendencies in present public discussions.Social problems have their causes in the individual, and are thus not a problem of socio-economic inequality. Consequently, we find an increasing policy in Europe of selfactivation and self-help as substitutes of social work. On the other hand, new types of social vulnerability and challenges for social work and social policy are detected which are discussed in the book in their European dimensions. Beginning in the last century in Europe, processes of social exclusion are discussed as common phenomena of the crisis in social welfare systems. They have their origins in the radical changes in paid employment, the weakening of family ties, and the increasing incapability of the welfare state to promote social inclusion. New types of ,social vulnerabilities' are emerging - containing chances as well as risks. They are discussed in two ways. On the one hand the implementation of indicator-based management systems of social services is attempted, which implies a range of chances and risks in ethical and professional self-image. On the other hand there are self-help movements, social networks and other social types of resilience ? which are often a complement or support to Social Work. Yet there is a policy to substitute Social Work by a strategy of self-activation. Both developments are signs of the present and indicators of the future of Social Work. They show the necessity of clarifying the social and political scopes and prospects of Social Work in societies at the crossroads of enhancing civility, human development and social security or overburden the vulnerable, who face new dimensions of psychological, ecological and economic distress. This book is an attempt to bring together several European discussions concerning Social Work and social politics.
Prof. Dr. Birgit Bütow Fachvereich Sozialwesen, Fachhochschule Jena Prof. Dr. María Luisa Gómez Jiménez, Facultad de Derecho. Universidad de Málaga.
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