The Power of the Stranger: Structures and Dynamics in Social Intervention - A Theoretical Framework, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Power of the Stranger

Structures and Dynamics in Social Intervention - A Theoretical Framework, 1st Edition

By Gert J.F. Leene, Theo N.M. Schuyt


138 pages

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pub: 2008-06-05
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The decline of the welfare state in Western Europe has led to an increasing role both for citizen-led initiatives and for philanthropy in easing, solving or preventing social problems. Care and everyday help is being provided by strangers - people driven by enthusiasm and commitment but unfamiliar with the pitfalls of social intervention. Utilizing research on social intervention over the past twenty-five years, this book presents a new theoretical framework for a number of basic principles which are paramount in social intervention at the individual level, at group level and at societal level. Taking Simmel's ideas of the stranger or third element as inspiration, the authors argue the importance of reflection on the role and significance of this third element - the advisor, the consultant, the social worker, or the middle-manager - when analyzing and improving the methods used in social intervention. This book will appeal to academics, researchers, practitioners, students and policymakers who are interested social intervention.


'…anyone who is interested in understanding the field of social work and social interventionism would gain immensely from reading.' Voluntas 'This book features a promising idea that potentially illuminates the commonalities between different forms of helping activities, including professional social work.' European Journal of Social Work

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: the new strangers; The third element; Elaboration of a triadic social intervention model; Legitimacy: contracts; Values; Attitude: how to handle asymmetry; The role of magic and rituals; Community work as a third element; Dynamizing the Western European welfare state model; Needs and philanthropy; Index.

About the Authors

Gert J.F. Leene is a former lecturer in Sociology of Social Work at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Theo N.M. Schuyt is Professor of Philanthropic Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and member of the editorial board of the Belgium/Dutch Journal "Sociale Interventie" (Social Intervention).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Services