ABSTRACT

This chapter analyses the evolution of social work as a field of education in Finland and reflects on its current status and challenges with regard to welfare state and social problems. Attention is paid to how the neoliberal transformations of the welfare state are changing social problems and what kind of challenge this presents to social work and social work education. It is argued that the fragmenting of the universalism of the welfare state, increasing inequality and, most recently, the challenges of migration have created new pressures for social work in Finland. As a result of the current social and political situation, social work education and the social work profession are being pulled in multiple directions. Historically, the strength of social work in Finland has been a strong link between research, education and practice. However, in the era of neoliberal welfare state policies this link is often seen as of secondary importance to increasing the efficiency of welfare service provision.