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Issues » 2014/2 - Social Work and Families with Children in Poverty »

Libor Musil, Olga Hubíková, Jana Havlíková

Social Work with People in Material Need


The article is devoted to the question: Do social workers understand helping the people in material need in terms of “compensating personal deficiencies” or in terms of “intermediating problem interactions”? Data from the social workers of municipalities and local branches of the Labor Office in three localities were collected using semi-structured and in-depth interviews. Selection of the localities was based on purposive criteria, so that the range of social work approaches were the widest possible. Several dozens of detailed descriptions of the particular interventions were acquired from interviewed social workers. These were interpreted using the theoretical framework of the above mentioned mutually polar understandings of social work. Eleven different types of “case solution modes” were distinguished in this way. These can be clustered in four more general groupings. The key finding consist in social workers from selected localities describe broad scale of case solution modes reaching from saturation of needs by means of administrating benefits or by means of influencing client competences to preventing material need consequences or their escalation by means of intermediating change of problem client interactions.


social work, case solution modes, material need, needs saturation, personal deficiencies, problem interactions

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