Conceptualising Social Work Through the Lens of Transnationalism:

Challenges and Ways Ahead

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Professional social work was established and expanded in a historical moment marked by intense nation-building; it was organized along and in parallel with other welfare state services which functioned to strengthen the nation-state. Today social work is at practice in a society marked by intensified globalisation; social needs and social problems that social workers are confronted with in their professional practice are sometimes transnational in their dynamics and cannot adequately be understood when limited to a local or national context. Drawing on insights from the transnational perspective, this article identifies challenges and ways ahead in the development of social work practice and theory with relevance for the globalised society. It argues that the transnational perspective can contribute to the dissolving of binaries between both ‘here’ and ‘there’, and ‘us’ and ‘them’ in social work, and pave the way for approaching social problems from a relational viewpoint beyond ‘given’ territorial and ethnocultural lenses.

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