Social Work in Transition - SOWIT

Knowledge network Social Work in Transition - SOWIT


The knowledge network SOWIT wants to share and develop views and knowledge about the relation between social work and the transition towards a sustainable society, and even set up new research projects about the subject. To this end, SOWIT is looking to build a network of interested partners, in Flanders as well as at international level.

SOWIT is the successor of the SOWEDO project (2007-2010) which was concluded by the publication of Een veerkrachtige samenleving. Sociaal werk en duurzame ontwikkeling (Resilient Society. Social work and sustainable development).

SOWIT is part of Research & Innovation at the School of Social Work (Leuven University College), and resides under Civitaz, Centre for Citizenship and Participation.

Basis: transition

It can hardly be denied that we are currently facing a global crisis. This crisis has multiple faces, say ecologic, economic and social, and these various aspects are interconnected. As a matter of fact, economic and ecologic crises are also social crises.

More than ever, it has become obvious that the global crisis and all its complexities must be tackled as a whole. Therefore, we must thoroughly revise the fundamental principles of our society and the ensuing action patterns. In our vision, it means no less than a paradigm change, and if we want to implement this change through a process of social change, we call it social transition.

Given that the poor and the weak people in society have become the major victims of the crisis, this transition has been a crucial matter in social work. It became the basis of the SOWEDO project. A vision on sustainable development was developed which stated that respect for ecologic boundaries is intrinsically linked to social justice, right to participation and well-being. The knowledge network SOWIT wants to continue in the footsteps of the SOWEDO project.

Social work in transition

Transition means a system change, a shift towards a society which is different from today's. The fact that such a transition is already taking place today can be attributed to the current global crisis. However, the question is: for the better or for the worse ? Therefore, it is crucial to steer the current changes into the desired direction.

Thus, transition will become a process of deliberate social change which will take longer than we are currently used to given our usual actions and policies. Furthermore, transition is not a single process, but a complex and multi-layered social change process based on interaction between developments in various social dimensions: ecologic, technologic, economic, social, institutional, cultural .... Consequently, a sustainable transition requires parallel changes in the major social subsystems such as: energy system, mobility patterns and systems, food production and distribution model, organization of labour and care, and so on.

A transition touches upon all aspects of our life. Nor can social work ignore it. That's the reason why ‘social work in transition’ has a double meaning:

  • What is the position of social work in the transition process towards a sustainable society? How can social work make a valued contribution ?
  • How does social work itself must change to do this?

That is the reason why SOWIT intends to be a haven for thorough reflection followed by research about the position and meaning of social work for the purpose of a livable and just future.