The research group Social Work and Migration started in 2015 as a collaborative forum for researchers and teachers at the Department of Social Work who conduct research on integration and migration issues. The group wants to respond to a comprehensive need for knowledge and methods that can be related to continuous and changing globalisation processes and intensified refugee and migration movements and how these movements are affected by nation-state, supranational and global economic power structures. The focus is on questions about how people with migration experience and other people, groups and movements act and navigate in relation to the structures mentioned above.
Within the group, we support the International Federation of Social Workers' (IFSW) and the International Association of Schools of Social Works' (IASSW) definition of social work:
Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that facilitates social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people.
Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility, and respect for diversities are central to social work.
In the research we conduct, we critically analyse the conditions for such social work, which contributes to social sustainability and social justice. Our studies are often qualitative, ethnographic and sometimes longitudinal, with the aim of analysing processes of inclusion and exclusion.
To varying degrees, analyses are made in a legal context. An overall ambition is to be critical of so-called methodological nationalism, which means that certain nationalist systems of legitimation are not made visible due to unreflective research.
Researchers in Social Work and Migration are involved in several activities related to research, teaching, debate and collaboration with other researchers/research groups, in national and international contexts as well as in local and civil society.
Learn more on social work and migration
Migration has always been a central feature of human history and has shaped the world history at different scales and levels. Throughout history, until the present, migration has commonly been defined either as a problem or a solution to issues of order and (in)stability in global and national contexts. The effects of migration do not only concern the life trajectories of individuals, but they also impinge on politics of nationhood, belonging and identity in a world structured by inequalities, oppression and dominance. Thus, migration poses various challenges as welfare states deal with integration policies and modes of incorporating immigrants into their countries of settlement. Likewise, migration calls into question ideas about belonging: who belongs where and who is entitled to making claims on rights and benefits. In the meantime, in West European contexts, migrant integration is often discussed in terms of "security challenges", "welfare erosion", and incompatible cultural differences. This situation draws our attention to a number of issues related to societal and institutional power, inclusion, exclusion, and integration as well as individual and social empowerment, agency and belonging from the perspective of migrants.
Since social work constitutes an important sector of many West European welfare systems, social workers are often given a frontline position in implementing integration and immigrant policies. As the leading social work scholar Walter Lorenz has insisted, the ways refugees or migrants are dealt with in a particular society "expose the prevailing rationale for the existence of boundaries of belonging, social responsibility and the conditions of citizenship". Relatedly, social workers can be important actors in supporting the citizenship status and rights of migrants and challenge the exclusionary forces of citizenship that migrants face.
Since social workers are at the front line of social policy implementation, it is important to examine and assess their views of migrants, cultural diversity and refugee reception in order to identify how the representatives of the social work profession contribute to inclusion and exclusion in a society marked by diversity. Clearly, their ways of dealing with these issues will affect migrants' experiences of integration and interaction within the Swedish society, their feelings of belonging, security and trust in the Swedish welfare system and society. The research and teaching group Social work and migration at Linnaeus University addresses all these areas of enquiry in their activities.
The research group Social Work and Migration works in collaboration with Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies and participates in the Cluster for Migration, Citizenship, and Belonging. We also collaborate with researchers in Platform Migration, and the Linnaeus Knowledge Environment A Questioned Democracy.
Our research group also initiated the forming of a national network for researchers in social work in the areas of migration and integration. The network Social work in times of migration - a national research network is funded during the years 2019-2023 by Forte and meets twice a year. The network includes researchers from the University of Gothenburg, University West, Jönköping University, Linköping University, Linnaeus University, Lund University, Mid Sweden University, Malmö University, Stockholm University, Södertörn University, Umeå University, and Örebro University.
Internationally, the research group Social Work and Migration participates in the consortium Migration and Diversity in European Cities (MadeinEurope) within the EUniWell collaboration. Participating migration researchers and teachers come from the universities of Birmingham, Florence, Leiden, Cologne, and from Linnaeus University. The consortium has arranged a joint winter school for doctoral and master students at the participating universities.
Project: Asylum interviews in South Africa and Sweden: Experiences, interpretations, and negotiations This project seeks to investigate and compare the asylum procedure in two countries, South Africa…
Project: Generating hope and dealing with uncertainty: An ethnographic study of the social dimensions of hope in the Swedish asylum-seeking context This project will study issues of hope and…
Project: Global social work and human mobility This EU project's main objective is to consolidate an international and inter-sectorial network of comparative and collaborative research and training on…
Project: Interpreters' knowledge: language justice and equal public service The purpose of this project was to make use of interpreters' unique experiences from meetings with staff and clients in…
Project: Living in transit This project analyses (individual) agency and (structural) constraints among young people who have engaged in ‘secondary migration’ following rejections in Sweden. The aim…
Project: A worthy reception? Social work with of refugees and migrants. Asylum reception is characterized by rapidly changing conditions as well as by a complex structure of receiving actors and…
Project: Communication with non-Swedish speaking clients and patients The purpose of the study is to map how primary care and social services staff handle communication with patients who have…
Project: Migration experience and religion as resource. An ethnographic study. I study how the migratory experience is mirrored in Sunday services in a Nigerian pentecostal congregation in Malmö,…
Project: Narratives as cultural heritage. Power and resistance in collections of narratives from and about immigrants at the archive of Nordic Museum 1970-2015 This project investigates how memory…
Project: Social wounds and civil repair following forced migration – a case study of narratives of suffering, ethics and morals among Swedish volunteers, social workers and young migrants
Collaboration projects with local communities
Småland som spelplats för världens flyktingmottagande 2016–2018 is a project that we initiated in 2016. We have begun collecting and analysing data about the contemporary reception of refugees. The project is conducted in collaboration between the department of social work, Linnaeus University; the department of cultural studies, Linnaeus University; Kalmar länsmuseum; Smålands kulturpark; the Linnaeus University Centre Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies and the County administrative boards of Kronoberg and Kalmar.
- Anders Lundberg Associate professor
- +46 470-70 83 28
- +46 72-594 13 02
- Åsa Söderqvist Forkby Senior lecturer
- +46 470-76 72 04
- Barzoo Eliassi Associate Professor
- +46 480-44 62 93
- Elin Ekström
- Emma Söderman Senior lecturer
- +46 480-49 76 20
- Jesper Andreasson Professor
- +46 480-44 60 91
- +46 72-594 17 90
- Jesper Johansson Associate professor
- +46 470-70 88 38
- Katarina Hyltén-Cavallius Assistant professor of law
- +46 470-70 81 39
- Kristina Gustafsson Associate Professor
- +46 470-70 86 47
- +46 70-290 83 27
- Lindita Aliti Doctoral student
- +46 470-70 81 44
- Peter Hultgren Senior lecturer
- +46 480-44 61 92
- Philip Lalander Professor
- +46 480-44 61 54
- Torun Elsrud Associate Professor
- +46 480-44 61 10
Besides contributing by adding migration perspectives to several courses at the Social Work Study Programme and in some advanced courses at Linnaeus University, the group has developed the master course Social work in the age of migration. By offering a multitude of perspectives on migration and citizenship in pluralistic societies, one aim of the course is to provide students with a spectrum of theoretical and analytical tools to increase their ability to assess critically and analyse different structural conditions that shape global migration patterns, including discourses that frame the understanding of migratory movements. Another aim is to allow the students to explore and learn more about social work practices and the character of the institutions operating in a migration context.