1st Edition

The Routledge International Handbook of Digital Social Work

Edited By Antonio López Peláez, Gloria Kirwan Copyright 2023
    574 Pages 35 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This handbook provides an authoritative and cutting-edge overview of current research and trends related to the emerging field of digital technology and social work.

    This book is divided into six sections:

    1. Reframing Social Work in a Digital Society
    2. Shaping a Science of Social Work in the Digital Society
    3. Digital Social Work in Practice
    4. The Ethics of Digital Social Work
    5. Digital Social Work and the Digitalization of Welfare Institutions: Opportunities, Challenges and Country Cases
    6. Digital Social Work: Future Challenges, Directions and Transformations

    This book, comprised of 40 specially commissioned chapters, explores the main intersections between social work theory and practice in an increasingly digitized world. Bringing a critical focus to how social work as a profession is adapting exponentially to embrace the benefits of technology, it gives specific consideration to the digitalization of the social work profession, including the ways in which social workers are using different forms of technology to provide effective services and innovative practice responses.

    With chapters on big data, digital archiving, e-citizenship and inclusion, gerontechnology, children and technology, and data ethics, this book will be of interest to all social work scholars, students and professionals as well as those working in science and technology studies more broadly.

    Introduction: Digital Social Work – Reshaping Social Work Practice in the 21st Century
    Antonio López Peláez and Gloria Kirwan

    Part 1: Reframing Social Work in a Digital Society

    Chapter Two – Digital Social Work: The Opportunity of Digitalisation. A Meta-Analysis
    Antonio López Peláez, Amaya Erro-Garcés and Raquel Pérez García

    Chapter Three – Social Work: Information and Communication Technologies: Development and Innovation
    Jorge M. L. Ferreira

    Chapter Four – Photovoice in the Time of Digital Social Work
    Eduardo Marques, Jose Luis Fernández-Pacheco Sáez and Mieko Yoshihama

    Chapter Five – Networked Relationships: Relationship-Based Social Work Practice in the Digital Era
    Gloria Kirwan

    Chapter Six – Technology Tools for Convivial Communities
    Walter LaMendola and Neil Ballantyne

    Chapter Seven – Collective Social Work and Social Movements in the Digital Age
    Enrique Pastor Seller and Maria Rosa Herrera Gutierrez

    Part 2: Shaping a Science of Social Work in the Digital Society

    Chapter Eight – Sociocybernetics for Digital Social Work: A Second Order Approach
    Patricia E. Almaguer-Kalixto and Chaime Marcuello-Servós

    Chapter Nine – Big Social Data and Social Networking Sites: Opportunities for Social Work Research and Practice
    Joaquín Castillo de Mesa

    Chapter Ten – Analysis of Citizen Interactions on Twitter about Social Services and Covid-19
    Alfonso Chaves-Montero

    Chapter Eleven – Viral Artifacts: Social Work Responses to COVID-19 Through YouTube as Archive
    Tara La Rose

    Chapter Twelve – Superdiversity and Digital Social Work
    Pablo Álvarez-Pérez

    Chapter Thirteen – Social Work Research: Digitising the Critical Incident Technique for the 21st Century using Audio Diaries
    Niamh Flanagan

    Chapter Fourteen – Digital Social Group Work: Evolution, State of the Art and a Renewed Research Agenda
    Andrés Arias Astray, David Alonso González. Linda Vanina Ducca Cisneros and Juan Brea Iglesias

    Part 3: Digital Social Work in Practice

    Part 3a: Digital Social Work with Client Groups

    Chapter Fifteen – Assistive Technologies, Robotics and Gerontological Social work Practice
    Naonori Kodate and Sarah Donnelly

    Chapter Sixteen – Digital Technology in Statutory Children’s Services
    Thomas Mackrill

    Chapter Seventeen – The Digitization of Social Work with Vulnerable Children and Older People in the Czech Republic: A Challenge for the Future
    Soňa Kalenda, Ivana Kowaliková, Alice Gojová, Adéla Recmanová and Alena Vysloužilová

    Chapter Eighteen – Digital social work and disability services
    Yolanda María de la Fuente Robles, Mª del Carmen Martin Cano and Enrique García Cortés

    Chapter Nineteen – The use of Facebook in social work practice with families: Safeguarding or surveillance?
    Liz Beddoe and Tarsem Singh Cooner

    Chapter Twenty - Technology and children: a role for social work?
    Fiachra Ó Súilleabháin

    Part 3b: Digital Social Work in Practice

    Chapter Twenty-one – Digital Storytelling in Social Work
    Chitat Chan

    Chapter Twenty-two – The Interface between Technology and Domestic Violence and Abuse: Challenges & Opportunities for Social Work Practice
    Stephanie Holt, Lynne Cahill and Ruth Elliffe

    Chapter Twenty-three – The Acceleration of the Implementation of Tele Social Work as a Complementary Intervention Formula: Teleworking, Remote Assistance and Online Home Visiting
    Joaquín Castillo de Mesa

    Chapter Twenty-four – Technology Bridges Community Social Work and Older People Care in Japan
    Ayako Sasaki and Kana Matsuo

    Chapter Twenty-five – Social Innovation and Technology for Social Work: A Training and Implementation Experience in Santiago de Chile
    Andrés Aparicio Alonso and Paula Miranda Sánchez

    Chapter Twenty-six – The Pandemic of Undesired Loneliness: New Strategies from Digital Social Work
    Rafael Acebes Valentín, Mª Dolores Muñoz de Dios and Silvia Vázquez González

    Chapter Twenty-seven – Social Work Education and Digitalisation: The Classroom in Transition
    Julie Byrne

    Chapter Twenty-eight – Reflections on Emergency Remote Online Teaching and Learning Group Work Education during Covid-19: South Africa
    Roshini Pillay

    Part 4: The Ethics of Digital Social Work

    Chapter Twenty-nine – Information and Communications Technology in Social Work: Ethical and Risk Management Issues
    Frederic G. Reamer

    Chapter Thirty – Privacy and ‘Big Data’ in Social Work Research: A Risk-based Approach
    Beth Coulthard

    Chapter Thirty-one – Artificial Intelligence and Social Work: Contributions to an Ethical Artificial Intelligence at the Service of People
    Esther Raya Diez

    Chapter Thirty-two – Ethics and Technology in Emergency Situations
    Allan Barsky

    Chapter Thirty-three – Mechanisms of Power in the Digital Age: Surveillance, Privacy and Professional Boundaries in Social Work Practice
    Gloria Kirwan and Julie Byrne

    Part 5: Digital Social Work and the Digitalization of Welfare Institutions: Opportunities, Challenges and Country Cases

    Chapter Thirty-four – Using Technologies as Allies in Social Work: the Chilean Experience of Reconectando
    Jorge Farah Ojeda and Sofía Cillero Fuenzalida

    Chapter Thirty-five – Integrating Social Work Practice and Technology Competencies: A comparative example between USA and Spain
    Domingo Carbonero Muñoz, Mioara Diaconu and Laura Racovita

    Chapter Thirty-six – Participatory Evaluation in Social Organisations Dealing with Emergency Situations: A Digital Social Work Perspective
    Ángel De-Juanas Oliva, Francisco Javier García-Castilla and Raquel Pelta

    Chapter Thirty-seven – Digital Social Work in Ordinary and Extraordinary Times: the Italian Experience
    Roberta T. Di Rosa and Mara Sanfelici

    Chapter Thirty-eight – Digital Social Work and Social Protection Programme: Conditional Cash Transfer in Colombia
    César Sánchez Álvarez

    Part 6: Future Challenges, Directions and Transformations

    Chapter Thirty-nine – ‘Harness Technology for Social Good’: A Grand Challenge for Social Work
    Melanie Sage and Jonathan Singer

    Chapter Forty – Digital Social Work: Support at Your Fingertips
    Tiffany Luo and Adrian Aguilera

    Chapter Forty-one – Digital People Production in Social Work
    Elizabeth Martinell Barfoed

    Chapter Forty-two - The Future of Digital Social Work: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities
    Antonio López Peláez and Gloria Kirwan


    Antonio López Peláez is Professor of Social Work and Social Services at UNED, Spain, and Executive Director of the International Council on Social Welfare (www.icsw.org). He is Director of the Social Work Series, published by Thomson Reuters Aranzadi.

    Gloria Kirwan is a Senior Lecturer in the Graduate School of Healthcare Management, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. She is currentlty the co-editor of the Journal of Social Work Practice (Taylor & Francis), editor of the journal Groupwork (Whiting & Birch), and editor of the Irish Social Worker, the journal of the Irish Association of Social Workers.

    "This ground-breaking volume provides relevant information on the various characteristics of Digital Social Work, the areas of action, the methodologies that are applied, and the good practices that are already part of this specific field of specialization within social work. It is a fundamental book that can be considered a cornerstone in a quite new area that has been enhanced by the needs and the physical isolation derived by the COVID19 pandemic. In this publication, academics, researchers, students, professionals and policy makers can find important knowledge and suggestions to develop new strategies and innovative approaches for social work and social services".

    Annamaria Campanini PhD, President of International Association of Schools of Social Work, retired Professor of Social Work at Bicocca University (Italy).

    "The COVID19 accelerated the digital transformation in the field of social work, changing the very nature of social work professional practices, intervention strategies, and policy design. This timely book offers insightful reflections on the implications of digitalization in the field of social work, critically examining the potential benefits and challenges of using digital technologies in diverse social work arenas. It effectively articulates the significance of digital transformation, providing in-depth analysis of the various aspects of Digital Social Work".

    Sang-Mok SUH, President, International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW)

    "Antonio López Peláez and Gloria Kirwan have compiled the most comprehensive coverage to date of the methods, applications and ethical challenges of digital social work. This informative and thought-provoking volume is a tremendous contribution to the emerging medium of professional practice in the realm of digital technology -- an invaluable reference to everyone interested in this area".

    Neil Gilbert, Milton and Gertrude Chernin Chair in Social Welfare,

    Distinguished Professor of Social Welfare

    University of California, Berkeley

    "Digital social work is a remarkable milestone in the development of social work practice in our contemporary society. By using the information and communication technology (ICT), social work practice goes beyond the geographic community and cultural contexts. This attempt expands the possibilities and options of social work practice, not only in policy, research, and education, but also in direct practice with interactive elements. This Handbook serves more than a guidebook. In fact, it is a brilliant collection of the ideas, ideals, and initiatives of the pioneers in defining and discovering the changes and challenges in front of social workers in different parts of the world. The pandemic of COVID-19 has been a trauma to all of us, however, it also provides a golden opportunity to develop digital social work to connect different people in difficulties. Chapters in this inspiring book do not only provide useful information, but also valuable insights for us to reflect…"

    Ming-sum TSUI, Co-Chief Editor, International Social Work Journal

    & Felizberta Lo Padilla Tong Dean of Social Sciences, Caritas Institute of Higher Education, Hong Kong

    "The COVID19 pandemic has accelerated the digitalization of everyday life and professional spheres. Accelerating virtualization, online work, and the incorporation of new technologies has deepened social exclusion, but it has also introduced new ways for social inclusion. How to reach and intervene in people living in both the physical and digital worlds?

    How to keep up with the digitization of social welfare institutions? Users and professionals are demanding specific training in digital skills.

    This handbook offers the most timely information on digital social work, ranges opportunities of digitalization, new methods and tools such as photovoice, new ways to bring together social work, digital networks and new social movements, and new ethical issues in digital social work. It provides vast and timely knowledge in 40 chapters, authored individually or in teams by over 70 contributors across 17 countries. Read it, if you want to chatch the latest information about digital social work on intervention projects, the design of public policies, the reorganization of interactions between the administration and users in the field of social services, or the evaluation of the programs that are carried out, incorporating the analysis of users' opinions, and designing intervention strategies in social networks, including the metaverse."

    Reyhan Atasü-Topcuoğlu, Professor of Social Work, Hacettepe University, Department of Social Work, Ankara (Turkey)

    "There is an urgent need for this impressive volume. What will become clear to the reader is that the digital space is not about removing ourselves from contact with service users, but about trying to get closer to the spaces where people now interact and communicate. The chapters in this book help to enhance, not diminish, our core social work values."

    Mark Doel, Emeritus Professor, Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom

    "Digitalisation in social work and social services is a constantly evolving matter. The International Handbook of Digital Social Work comes at a time when this theme has become more critical than ever as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. We have witnessed increased vulnerabilities and emerging social needs alongside demographic ageing, which mean that there is a need to refocus social services and modernise them through the use of innovation and technology.

    Combining theory and practice, this volume provides stimulating reading in advancing the understanding of innovation in social services through technology; the use of assistive technology and robotics in supporting social inclusion, accessibility, and autonomy; or data improvement and management to support professionals working in the sector. A highly recommended reading to continue progressing the use of technology and digitalisation in the improvement of social services".

    Alfonso Lara-Montero, Chief Executive Officer, European Social Network

    "This is a timely and deeply comprehensive handbook that captures both the current and future role of technology in the field of social work. The handbook brings together 70 top scholars from over 17 countries bringing an exceptional mix of perspectives and contexts to the exciting field of digital social work. The outstanding volume includes chapters ranging from the role of digital social work in communities, organizations, education, research, clinical practice, and more. The handbook concludes with exceptionally thoughtful contributions related to the ethics and the future of digitization in social work. This handbook is destined to become a "must have" resource for social work practitioners, researchers and educators."

    Joseph Himle, Howard V. Brabson Collegiate Professor, University of Michigan School of Social Work and Department of Psychiatry.