Mission and Perspective

Around the world, the role and status of social work is under review against the background of sweeping global, regional and local changes. The contours of existing welfare regimes are dissolving and the foundations and boundaries of social solidarity are being redefined. These changes, as well as responses from those immediately affected by them, have a farreaching impact on social work to reexamine its relationship with the state and with society. For many social workers, the most challenging feature of their daily work is the growing inequality in the distribution of wealth, resources and opportunities globally and locally. As nation states everywhere come increasingly under the sway of international economic interests, the global split between poorer and wealthier countries manifests itself in exacerbated social divisions affecting users of social services and participants in social projects. 'Indigenous' social inequality is intrinsically linked to processes of globalisation and aggressive power politics, with concomitant population displacements and international forms of exploitation of vulnerable and defenceless people.

An impoverished social welfare imaginary tends to produce instrumental and depoliticised responses to these challenges. Workfare policies, popular among governments across the political spectrum, locate the causes of poverty and exclusion in individual failings and revive the classification of the 'deserving' and 'undeserving' poor, in ways that are reminiscent of social work's origins.

Against the background of these developments, social work's role as an empowering, socially inclusive and accountable profession needs to be reasserted, not for purposes of professional elitism but in the interests of justice and social solidarity. Social work can only assert its claim to such a role on the basis of sound political and economic analysis of the causes of exclusion, oppression and poverty and in conjunction with the struggles of social movements, human rights activists and user self-help groups.

Research and critical theoretical discussions are key assets in this new and challenging scenario. They require an accessible lively forum for debate that is open to a wide range of participants from all over the world - social workers, researchers, service users, students, educators and politicians interested in social welfare issues. Internet publishing facilities provide the opportunity to engage in shared deliberation about the future directions of social work. Therefore the editors are convinced that it is timely to initiate the new electronic journal

Social Work and Society

Social Work and Society (SW&S) is an international open access journal in the fields of social work and social policy, founded in 2003. An international network of social scientists and political activists is accountable for publishing SW&S.

Social Work and Society is dedicated to critical analysis of the relationship between social work, social policy, the state and economic forces. It provides a forum in which conventional views can be challenged, theories about the status and mission of social work in society can be developed and ways for social work to act politically and responsibly can be identified. The journal aims to engage in truly international debate by including discussants from countries all over the world. In doing so, it is committed to constructing discursive relationships between research, theory, education and practice. It aims at widening the scholarly discourse to critical, user-accessible debates on current developments concerning the broad field of social work and society in all parts of the world.

SW&S is a peer-reviewed journal published two times a year. As an open access publication that is available free of charge SW&S is a member of the Digital Peer Publishing Initiative (www.dipp.nrw.de). Each issue consists of sections for a Special Issues and an open Forum (see Information for Authors).

SW&S is an online-only journal that is not distributed in hard copy and is an international journal using English as a standard language. Articles will be primarily published in English. Non-English papers have a comprehensive abstract in English (see Information for Authors).