In the End
In the near future, the enabling intellectual and philosophical frame for social action and social work practice will become a key issue. In addition, collective and individual learning remains at the core of any change in the forthcoming cultural and social transformations (see Julkunen and Karvinen-Niinikoski in this volume). As a response to the paradigm of evidence-based practice and efficiently managed social welfare services, the Nordic scholars of social and political sciences have been at the frontline in searching for alternative modes of knowledge production to promote dialogue between academic research, practical knowledge, and the experiences of clients and social professionals. This dialogue means enabling a two-way relationship and communication between the researcher and the subjects being examined throughout the knowledge production process. Bent Flyvbjerg (2001, 166), a Danish scholar of practice-relevant social scientific research writes:
We must take up problems that matter to the local, national and global communities in which we live, and we must do it in ways that matter; we must focus on issues of values and power like great social scientists have advocated from Aristotle and Machiavelli to Max Weber and Pierre Bourdieu. Finally, we must effectively communicate the results of our research to fellow citizens. If we do this … we may transform social science to an activity done in public for the public, sometimes to clarify, sometimes to intervene, sometimes to generate new perspectives, and always to serve as eyes and ears in our ongoing efforts at understanding the present and deliberating about the future. We may, in short, arrive at a social science that matters.
The social mandate of social work both as a profession and in academia is meant to look after the maintenance of reasonable social cohesion and to safeguard the overall
realization of social citizenship. In the conditions of the near future this task requires from us even more than what Flyvbjerg argues for above. The social mandate invites us to initiate and to participate in the joint transformative efforts of practice with the various stakeholders, such as clients, administrators, politicians and experts from various fi The aim of such an endeavour is to create shared values, missions and forms of organizing based on earlier research results together with knowledge by experience of a different kind, and to provide a systematically organized pool of multidisciplinary and multisource knowledge to improve the state of well-being locally and globally. Finding the most effective mix of organizational arrangements to solve a particular problem of governance is always an empirical question that demands systematically planned analyses (Hämäläinen 2013, 23) in addition to understanding the basic social mechanisms that contribute to the phenomena of interest (e.g. Blom and Moren 2003; Pekkarinen 2010; Tapola-Haapala 2011).
Can social work experts become stakeholders in the project to launch the new era of sustainable European well-being with a programme of well-planned social experiments as part of the service practices? Can they frame multidisciplinary research issues locally and globally, as Julkunen and Karvinen-Niinikoski, in this volume, suggest? Can they learn together with the involved lay people and with the best local and international experts of other relevant fields about the robust grassroots comparisons between the various cultural and societal contexts of Europe? We must remember that our employers are not the managers of the welfare service system, who might own the important mandate of intermediation and leadership but who can never become the owners of the emancipatory potential of social action with people. No, our employers are taxpayers and citizens. And as we have learned throughout history, social activists can sow the secret seeds for peaceful societal transformation by producing those bits of social and individual knowledge that are missing. Now, especially in the era of social media, these activists have the opportunity to deliver a true 'citizen science' (e.g. Kulkki 2012a),
i.e. science of social citizenship, and science that also serves citizens.