Social Pedagogy in Finland and Sweden: a comparative analysis

Juha Hämäläinen, Lisberth Eriksson

Abstract


Discussing how the concept of social pedagogy has been used in Finland and Sweden, this paper provides a historical and systemic comparison of policies and practices of social pedagogy in these two countries. The main aim is to identify and explain the main similarities and differences between the Finnish and Swedish national trajectories of social pedagogical thinking and action. In the first phase of the analysis, country-specific features of social pedagogy were described paying attention to historical and structural aspects. In the second phase, these descriptions were compared in a dialogue between the au- thors, one from Finland and the other from Sweden. The dialogue-based comparison was targeted to ex- plain the identified similar and different features of social pedagogical policies and practices. The explanation was based on historical and systemic considerations, especially those of historical development, research activities, theory buildings, methodologies and techniques, professionalization and the practice fields, and the future prospects of social pedagogy.

The analysis showed that the historical roots and theoretical foundations of social pedagogical think- ing and action are very similar in Finland and Sweden but the position of social pedagogy  as an academic discipline  as well as a field of practice is partly different. Since social pedagogy has not been acknowl- edged as an academic discipline in Sweden, its outlook as a field of practice is on shaky ground, while in Finland the future of social pedagogy as an academic discipline  is uncertain because the social-peda- gogical know-how based on academic education is not well known and has not found general acceptance in the field’s practice.

The analysis showed that the historical roots and theoretical foundations of social pedagogical thinking and action are very similar in Finland and Sweden but the position of social pedagogy as an academic discipline as well as a field of practice is partly different. Since social pedagogy has not been acknowledged as an academic discipline in Sweden, its outlook as a field of practice is on shaky ground, while in Finland the future of social pedagogy as an academic discipline is uncertain because the social pedagogical know-how based on academic education is not well known and has not found general acceptance in the field’s practice.


Keywords


social pedagogy; cross-national research; comparative social work; Finland; Sweden

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7179/PSRI_2016.27.05

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DOI: 10.7179/PSRI

 

    

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ISSN: 1139-1723

DOI: 10.7179/PSRI