Social workers often provide support to people in difficult life situations, such as children in a family who need protection from violence, working adolescents who require advice, unemployed adults participating in integration programmes and pensioners on a low income who apply for supplementary benefits. The objective of interventions of this kind by social workers is to restore the individual's capacity for self-determination and active participation in society. At the core of our research activities is the question of where and how social workers should intervene. We therefore place an emphasis on child protection, the provision of support to adults, families and victims, social welfare, work with offenders and analysis of the criminal justice system. We feed the resulting research results back to field workers and jointly develop 'best practice' guidelines for social interventions.
Social workers, irrespective of whether they work in social services, hospitals or schools, are integrated into a multitude of different organisations. Not only do these work in very different ways but their structures also influence how social workers approach their routine work. We investigate the interaction between social work and organisational structures and study issues of control, quality and social integration. We use the results to determine what organisational forms are appropriate and provide relevant advice to organisations in the social work and healthcare sectors. Social organisation is also the focus of our Master's degree programme.
Social policy achievements such as old age and survivor's insurance, disability insurance, unemployment insurance and social welfare are frequently criticised in public. It is often claimed that social welfare systems are inefficient. We consider these claims and look for shortcomings and undesirable consequences of the policies in place with our focus on the interaction between the various systems. What exactly happens when people lose eligibility to support under one social welfare system and thus fall into the net of the next? We investigate the social, economic and legal aspects of the dynamics of poverty resulting from such processes and provide policy recommendations.
The multidisciplinary Institute on Ageing investigates issues of independent living and social participation in old age. It concentrates on social relationship and support networks, elderly workers as well as questions of integration and old-age care as important topics of the future.