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Call for Papers - ERIS Journal - Winter 2020 - Empowering Communities

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A call for papers for the English edition of the journal Czech and Slovak Social Work (ERIS Journal)
The journal Czech and Slovak Social Work invites submissions for a special edition on Social Work and Empowering Communities, Winter edition 2020
Guest Editors: Dr Anna Metteri and Dr Paul Stepney, Tampere University, Finland.
Empowerment has become something of a popular catchword that people across the political spectrum find irresistible, thus making it an ‘intellectually messy’ and slippery concept. To some extent the same can be said for the term community which is now frequently applied to a wide range of professional activities in the human sciences and services. It follows that both community and empowerment have become highly contested terms, concerned with societal transformation, liberation, changing relationships at the local level as well as personal change. 
Empowerment now occupies an important place in the social work literature but has been defined in several ways. Malcolm Payne (2014) argues that empowerment ‘seeks to help clients gain powers of decision and action over their own lives’ (p. 294). It does this principally by removing social and personal barriers, increasing people’s capability and self-confidence, and shifting power to the powerless.  Community empowerment implies community ownership and action that explicitly aims at social and political change. Hence, community empowerment is seen as a multi-dimensional construct, informed by the work of Paulo Freire (1972), aimed at helping local people gain control over their lives by increasing the personal and political power of the oppressed. This connects with the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and International Association of Schools of Social Work definition, which locates empowerment within a framework of human rights and social justice (IFSW/IASSW 2013).
One of the issues that emerges from this is whether empowering communities is a theory, a process or something broader that connects the two? Writers such as Janet Lee (2001) see it as a complex overarching process and framework for practice informed by a range of theoretical ideas. The process may be like a journey that develops and expands as we experience it. A commitment to empowering communities, promoting human rights and social justice will encourage practitioners, educators, academics and students of social work to consider new ways of thinking about and doing social work. 
Special Edition 
The purpose of the special edition is to explore possibilities for working in dynamic and challenging ways to empower communities and consider the implications for social work practice, education, research and theory development. Social work is an established profession based on social sciences and utilizing also other professional disciplines, contributing effective skills, interventions and resources that are evidence-based and provide measurable outcomes that can promote social justice and contribute to community well-being. 
When we bring the terms empowerment and community together, as in this special edition, it gives us an opportunity as social workers to develop a more holistic community-based approach. The advantage of exploring ways to empower communities is that it enables us to situate experience of exclusion and oppression within a framework of global social policy and wider structures.
Community social work is one method that reflects this approach, revealing a clear commitment to personal, inter-personal and community empowerment that is concerned with working alongside clients and community members. It does this by seeking to develop more preventative and inclusive local services and helping to organize activities where people can meet and develop a shared sense of belonging. However, empowering communities can become a central component of other social work methods and approaches and can be applied to work with any client group (Stepney, 2018). 
Social work education seeks to offer state of the art teaching and learning opportunities in order to prepare students for working in interdisciplinary community-based teams caring for and supporting individuals, families and communities. Social work students and practitioners are encouraged to undertake active leadership in social work agencies and community projects and respond to the complex social needs of culturally diverse communities. Social work research evidences new interventions and sources of knowledge in collaboration with other disciplines, clients and service users, and community members. Social work academics offer new and sometimes radical theories and insights into different ways of promoting social justice and achieving equality through social care policy, legislation and practices. Contributions offering advances in empowering community-based practice and creative interventions, education and research in any social work field are therefore invited, together with interdisciplinary and international submissions. 
FREIRE, P. 1972. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
IFSW / IASSW. 2013. Global definition of social work. Available from:
LEE, J. A. B. 2001. The Empowerment Approach to Social Work Practice: Building the Beloved Community. 2nd ed. New York: Columbia University Press. 
PAYNE, M. 2014. Modern Social Work Theory. 4th ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
STEPNEY, P. 2018. Community Social Work. In: THOMPSON, N., STEPNEY, P. (Eds). Social Work Theory and Methods: The Essentials. New York: Routledge, 227-239.
SEWPAUL, V., NTINI, T., MKHIZE, Z., ZANDAMELA, S. 2015. Emancipatory social work education and community empowerment. International Journal of Social Work and Human Services Practice, 3(2), 51-58. 
Possible topics
The following topics are merely a guide: 
o Community empowerment and social policy i.e. human rights, modernisation, organisational contexts, costs and benefits 
o Community approach in specialist fields of practice i.e. child protection and family support, mental health, adult services, disability, rehabilitation and ambulatory care of those discharged from hospital, alienated youth on the streets, palliative care, trauma work, community and public health care, aged and dementia care, migrant and refugee groups
o Ethics and values in empowering communities, cultural and political tensions and controversies - including working class men in former smokestack industries in the ‘rust belt states’ or areas where they feel they have been left behind and become the forgotten people. This can raise tensions between people with forced migration backgrounds and those who have lived longer in the region.
o New community practices and use of technologies in health and home care, interdisciplinary teamwork and decision-making, social and care management empowering older and disabled people to live independently in the community and to be socially included.
o Community empowerment with socially excluded groups who experience loss and discrimination i.e. older citizens in the age of the internet and social media, refugees and migrants, offenders in the community, single parents, disabled people, Roma peoples, LGBT groups.
o Action-research projects in the community, eco-social sustainability projects, support groups 
o Educating and supporting practitioners and examining emerging practice theories and ways of integrated methods
Manuscripts are to be submitted as academic articles in the range between 5,000 – 10,000 words (including its title, biography, abstracts, key words, the main body, list of references and sources, explanatory notes). See the website for further details on the format ( and instructions for authors (
All submissions must include discussion of implications for social work practice, education, research, theory or ethics at the individual, community or policy level. We encourage prospective authors to contact the Guest Editors, Dr Anna Metteri, Senior Lecturer (emerita) in Social Work, Tampere University, Finland,; Dr Paul Stepney, Adj. Professor of Social Work, Tampere University , Finland,
We are also looking for book reviews and research notes related to the topic of this special issue.
Book review is the standard literary genre. So please observe all review requirements. In the end of review could be answer to the question – “In what way does the book contribute to social work, respectively to social workers and workers in practice, education or research?” Scope of review is set at 1,000 – 2,000 words. Reviews must contain the bibliographic data on the book (e.g. Paul Michael Garrett: Welfare Words: Critical Social Work and Social Policy. London: Sage, 2018) and the name of the review author along with the contact. Please connect also copy of title page of the reviewed book. 
Research Note is a short text (1,000 – 1,500 words) about research activities in your faculty or department, interesting dissertation thesis, research project you are involved in and so on.
Submission Deadline 
The deadline for submissions for this special edition is August 10th, 2019. 
Two copies of the manuscript should be submitted to the editor’s office, sent via e-mail to the administrator of the academic papers who will also provide additional information upon request: One copy should be free of any information which would lead to the identification of the author/s. We suggest that authors substitute any of their own publications in the text with (author’s own, year) and remove all their own publications from the list of References at the end. The other copy should be a complete version of the article with all references intact.
Any queries please contact the Guest Editors: Dr Anna Metteri and/or Dr Paul Stepney, or the administrator of academic papers, Barbora Grundelova (

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