Faculty of Educational Sciences

Institute of Social Work and Social Policy

The Institute of Social Work and Social Policy is characterised by a wide-ranging research portfolio. Main focuses include social work-based or socio-pedagogical interventions and social services and provision. The “Provider MHL” project, for example, (Federal Ministry of Education and Research 2015–2018, director Prof. Fabian Kessl) looks at issues relating to the structuring of inter-institutional relations in work with the children of mentally ill parents. The “Innovation Via a Small-scale Approach” project, funded by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Research of the State of North-Rhine Westphalia (director Prof. Fabian Kessl, term 2016–2018), is investigating the implementation of the social space orientation programme in children’s and youth services in North-Rhine Westphalia. “The Gentle Controllers”, a comparative replication study financed by the DFG (2016–2019, directed by Prof. Jan Wehrheim) is using qualitative methods to examine contacts between social work professionals and the recipients of their services in the youth courts and in the area of educational support.

A further main focus of the Institute of Social Work and Social Policy lies within the field of social policy and social security, where various target groups are being looked at. A DFG project that has now been completed (2012–2016, directed by Prof. Dirk Hofäcker) undertook an international investigation of shifting transitions to retirement following the changes that have taken place in the general conditions governing pension and labour market policy. In the “Except” project, which is funded within the scope of the EU Horizon 2020 Programme (2015–2018), the partial study at the University of Duisburg-Essen led by Prof. Hofäcker is focusing on the socio-economic consequences of labour market insecurities for young adults in Europe. The DFG project “From Generation to Generation” (2016–2018, directed by Prof. Ullrich and Dr. Schiek) is deploying qualitative methods to reconstruct experiences of poverty from a family history perspective. Finally, in the doctoral training group “Living in the Transformed Welfare State” (Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Research of the State of North-Rhine Westphalia 2013–2016, Prof. Kessl, Klammer, Ullrich), young academic researchers have been investigating the consequences of the transformations that have taken place in the welfare state from the perspective of socio-pedagogical user behaviour and from the point of view of socio-political effects.

This research orientation is supplemented by methodologically basic research and applied research studies. The DFG project “Performance and Success of Higher Education Students”, for example, (2015–2017, directed by Prof. Ullrich, Dr. Schiek), looks at the issue of which methodological possibilities open up group discussions in web forums on qualitative social research. Research applications are also linked with academic training in a practical way within the scope of national (Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences) and international (University of Turin) cooperation agreements in teaching research projects. The international links of the Institute are further reflected in the fact that its academic researchers are involved in hosting various specialist international conferences and summer schools.