Differentiation of social services as part of transformative social work practice during COVID-19

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


To analyse the transformation of social work arena in the context of Neoliberal policies during Covid-19 pandemic. The analysis consists of secondary resources (systematic literature review, document and policy analysis, data sources) and primary open-ended interviews data (n=90) (conducted from Jul- Sept2020) in the research project “Life with Covid-19” VPP-COVID-2020/1-0013).  The context of Neo-liberalism have affected the provision of social work services by different actors (state, municipality, NGOs, private and individual initiatives) in Europe and Latvia. Differentiation of social services mitigated unequal distribution of social services available for the most vulnerable groups (families with disabled children, persons with intellectual disabilities, persons experiencing domestic violence etc.). The critical and most crucial social services were enlightened during the Covid-19 pandemics, e.g., social rehabilitation for persons with intellectual disabilities, young parents, disabled children, persons experiencing domestic violence etc. Main results demonstrate that existing coordination and management of social services were provided during highly uncertain and stressed working environment. Contrary, the adaptability and flexibility encouraged social workers to bring forward alternative social work models in close collaborative institutional settings.  The Covid-19 pandemics demonstrate the mobilization of social work profession on different levels. On the one hand, the neoliberalism and differentiation of social services has resulted in unequal and less controlled distribution of services. On the other, during the Covid-19 social work profession demonstrate rather active and responsive social work being able to adjust to the social complexity and individual needs. The alternative social work models include more horizontal cross-sectoral institutional collaboration inside and outside public sector, more active inclusion of NGOs and individual initiatives in family counselling, peer support, group empowerment, psychosocial rehabilitation services etc. The performance of social work profession is affected by the macro-level contextual ongoing Neo-liberal reform processed both in education, health and welfare.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2021
EventRSU Research week 2021: Society. Health. Welfare - Rīga, Latvia
Duration: 24 Mar 202126 Mar 2021
Conference number: 8


ConferenceRSU Research week 2021: Society. Health. Welfare
Internet address

Field of Science*

  • 5.4 Sociology

Publication Type*

  • 3.4. Other publications in conference proceedings (including local)


Dive into the research topics of 'Differentiation of social services as part of transformative social work practice during COVID-19'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this