MARGI research group

Institutional Practices and Interaction at the Margins of Welfare Services

MARGI reseach group

MARGI research group (including nine social work researchers) concentrates on social and welfare work among adults, especially on mental health, substance abuse and supported housing services. The services are located at the margins of welfare services in the sense that they are targeted to vulnerable people living in difficult conditions and having complex support needs. Research is thus closely connected to the issues of inequality and poverty. In our recent research projects we have studied for example homelessness from the point of view of the Housing First principle, responsibilisation of workers and clients in mental health and substance abuse services and latest home-based service interactions at various supported housing settings (see projects).

In studying services our main interest is on everyday grass-roots level practices. This means that we focus on institutional encounters between workers and clients or among workers including face-to-face conversations and meetings as well as virtual or text-based interactions. As data we use recordings from naturally occurring client-worker talks, multi-party case conferences, workers’ team meetings, interviews with various stakeholders, documents and field notes. We analyse grass-roots level practices ‘in situ’, as here and now practices, but with a special interest on how workers and clients orient to prevailing welfare policies and discourses.

The methodological roots of our research lie in social constructionism and ethnomethodology. Accordingly, we apply various discursive and text analytical methods in scrutinising everyday institutional encounters. We also do analysis jointly with workers and clients with an ultimate aim to develop service practices at the margins of welfare. The most important international network of the MARGI research group is DANASWAC (Discourse and narrative approaches to social work and counselling) that organises yearly seminars and joint publication projects.