The Ecosocial Transition of Societies : The contribution of social work and social policy book cover
1st Edition

The Ecosocial Transition of Societies
The contribution of social work and social policy

ISBN 9781472473493
Published September 20, 2016 by Routledge
348 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This groundbreaking book both explains and expands the growing debate on ecological (environmental) social work at the global level. In order to achieve this, the book strengthens the environmental paradigm in social work and social policy by undertaking further research on theoretical and conceptual clarification as well as distinct reflections on its practical directions.

Divided into five parts: concepts; the impact of environmental crises; sustainable communities and lifestyles; food politics; and the profession in transition, this work’s main objective is to place ecological social work as a part of the more comprehensive and interdisciplinary eco-social transition of societies towards sustainability, balancing economic and social development with the limited resources of the natural environment. By focussing on these five core concepts, it shows how social work and social policy contribute to this transition through having a research-based approach and orientation on solutions rather than problem analysis.

The book will be of interest to scholars from a broad range of disciplines, including those in social work and social policy, sustainability, economics, agriculture and environmental studies.

Table of Contents


1. It is the Time for Social Work and Social Policy Research on the Ecosocial Transition 

Part 1: Concepts

2. The Conceptualisation of Ecosocial Transition

3. The Relational Conception of Wellbeing

4. Community Based Economy and Ecosocial Transition

5. Thinking about Commons – A Post-capitalist Perspective for Social Work

Part 2: Tackling Challenges and Complexities

6. Ecosocial Work – Reflections from the Global South

7. Scopes for Adivasi-centred Ecosocial Work in an Indian Mining Region?

8. Instrumentalism and Environmental Justice: People’s Cooperative Renewable Energy in Mauritius

Part 3: Sustainable Communities and Lifestyles

9. An Ecosocial Model for the Sustainability of Vulnerable Communities

10. Social Work and Eco Activism: From Seed Bombs to Community Gardens, Bike Lanes to Sustainable Urbanism

11. Local Welfare Systems in Rural Finland as a Representation of Sustainable Development

12. Ecosocial Transitions – Exploring the Wisdom of Our Elders

13. Promoting Ecosocial Transition through Permaculture: A Practice Tool for Social Work

Part 4: Food Politics

14. Nordic Welfare Universalism, Charity Food Aid and Environmental Ethics

15. Farm to Table – Promoting Nutritious and Affordable Food in a State with Varied Cultural Traditions and Scarce Water

16. Food Poverty between Charity and the Human Right to Food: The Case of Urban Gardens in Slovenia

Part 5: Profession in Change

17. The Role of Social Workers in a Time of Ecological Crisis

18. Transforming the Profession – Social Workers’ Expanding Response to the Environmental Crisis

19. The Changing Understanding of the ‘Person in Environment’ in Social Work Practice


20. The Contribution of Social Work and Social Policy in Ecosocial Transition of Society


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Aila-Leena Matthies is Professor of Social Work at the University of Jyväskylä, Kokkola University Consortium. She has been publishing about the ecosocial perspective of social work in Finnish, German and English since the late 1980s.

Kati Närhi is Professor of Social Work in the Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Her main research interests are ecosocial approach in social work, ecosocial transition, community social work, structural social work, participation and user involvement.


This book addresses the most important issues for social work as a profession in transition during a time of vast environmental challenges. Chapters range from policy and conceptualisation through to practice that focuses on sustainability, activism and food politics. This is the new face of social work, and it’s wonderful to see a contribution that incorporates contributions from so many parts of the globe. - Adjunct Professor Jennifer McKinnon, Charles Sturt University, Australia.