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L’approche communautaire dans le travail social : une perspective européenne

Abstract : Social work in Europe is characterized by dynamics of convergence, reinforced by formal and informal processes of Europeanization within the European Union, and variables rooted in the history and culture of the countries. One of the most visible areas of divergence in the social work profession between countries is the emphasis on community work. These differences in status are compounded by nuances in the organization and forms of community practice in different countries, in social work and at its margins. How can these variations be understood and interpreted? What are the factors that determine whether or not community work is included in social work? This thesis presents social work and community work in 6 European countries (France, Netherlands, England, Sweden, Czech Republic, Italy), corresponding to distinct welfare state models, and is based on semi-structured interviews with field workers and academics in each country. The socio-historical study of community work across Europe shows that it was imported post-war as a professional practice, and that everywhere (except in Eastern Europe, where social work as a profession did not exist) it went through a golden age - while retaining a minority status in social work - culminating with the ideology of development and the radical movement in the 1960s and 1970s. The shift towards liberalism in the 1980s redefined the political project assigned to social work, towards more curative and individual interventions, focusing on target groups. From then on, community work was marginalized or grew outside of social work, with the exception of the Netherlands, where it remained as a social work branch despite a decline in numbers. However, since the 2000s, the community (and its corollary, civil society or the third sector) has returned to the center of public discussions, first under the influence of the political model of the Third Way, and then more generally following the implementation of public management principles, which reflect the penetration of ideological and managerial neoliberalism throughout Europe. Thus, models of community activation and networking towards community empowerment are more present in countries where the liberal turn is more pronounced. The empowerment paradigm, although widely polysemic, contributes to unify the field. Among the variables, some relate to the arrangements between different actors within the welfare state, depending on the role granted to civil society, and to political cultures centered on consensus or cleavage, according to which social work seeks to adjust its role in the political arena - depending on whether it seeks neutrality in order to avoid the cleavage, or whether it acknowledges its legitimacy to speak out in the public arena (and is recognized as such by the public authorities). The pre-existence of professional traditions in popular education (such as animation in France) or social pedagogy, which seem to be a specific European component, also conditions the place of community work within social work: social work in the Nordic countries was built on a tradition of social pedagogy, while in France, the relationship between animation and social work is, historically, tumultuous. Finally, another variable is the status of the social work profession, which allows it to have a hold on the scope and definition of its activities.
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Submitted on : Thursday, April 22, 2021 - 3:16:43 PM
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Laure Lienard. L’approche communautaire dans le travail social : une perspective européenne. Sociologie. Université de Lorraine, 2020. Français. ⟨NNT : 2020LORR0274⟩. ⟨tel-03205727⟩



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