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Home > Arhiva > 2011 > Numar: 3 > An Attempt to Find New Concepts of Social Work in the Context of Changes in Social Policy in Hungary and in the European Union

 An Attempt to Find New Concepts of Social Work in the Context of Changes in Social Policy in Hungary and in the European Union

  • Gabor Hegyesi (Social Innovation Foundation, 1073 Budapest, Erzsébet krt. 53.
  • Katalin Talyigás (Social Innovation Foundation, 1073 Budapest, Erzsébet krt. 53.
  • Orsolya Fekete (Social Innovation Foundation, 1073 Budapest, Erzsébet krt. 53.

It has been a very important concept that social work has to have a multi-functional relationship with social policy. As a Hungarian practitioner before WW II, Rezső Hilscher, the leading professional figure of the ‘Hungarian Settlement Movement’ wrote in his well-known paraphrase: “Social work personalizes the impersonal social policy” through the work of social workers. Social policy itself can be divided into two major types. The statutory social policy (as a part of the general policy of the government, of the Parliament) decides about the values in social policy, and as a consequence, the social rights of people, the target groups of social provision, the responsibilities of the various participants of social activities (central bodies, local governments), and the resources to spend on social goals, etc., while the non-statutory ‘social policy’ (social provision) is offered by the civil sector, the market and the informal sector. This conceptual and practical cooperation between the two professions (social work and social policy) made it possible that the golden age of social work was in the heights of the welfare state period of social policy (1950-1980) internationally, but due to the special political structure of CEE countries, social work had to be reinvented after the transition. The central question of this short summary is: how to (or not to) accommodate social work itself to the changes of social policy after the welfare state period, in the last decades. These changes can be described shortly as the changes of the welfare states. These changes mainly mean withdrawal of the state from either social service provisions, or/and financing social service provisions. This has been the major trend in the world, but in Central-East Europe there was an additional factor that made it even more complicated, that of the political changes in 1989-1990. Then, again, the recent economic crisis and demographic changes in the world gave a further impetus to the problem, e.g. there are more social problems and less financial resources. How is it possible to come out of this trap? How does it affect social work? This is the basic conceptual frame this presentation tries to partly summarize what is going on, and also tries to come up with some new ideas, suggestions.

Keywords: social work, social policy, crisis of welfare states, changes of welfare regimes