The research subject social work concerns traditional social issues regarding the welfare of children and families, substance misuse and addiction, ageing, disability, and poverty and other manifestations of structural inequality. Research is carried out using both practical and theoretical knowledge models.

The focus of the research ranges from individuals and groups in vulnerable life situations to societal circumstances influencing people’s conditions and life chances. The research asks questions about how social vulnerability arises, and how to prevent and counteract it. It is about how social work can be organised in terms of interventions and mobilisation, and also about the organisation and impact of welfare and social-political measures. The user perspective, as well as that of social workers and professionals, inform the research.

Research also deals with issues connected to experiences of migration processes, encounters with welfare institutions, as well as the response of social work to migration and diversity.

Other important elements of research are sexuality studies, and issues related to sustainable urban development.

Focus areas

Children, youth and family

The research within this area concerns children, youth, families and parenthood in a post-modern contemporary society, which is characterised by particular complexities and vulnerabilities.

Among other things, we focus on:

  • the living conditions of children and families in situations that are both individually and structurally challenging
  • everyday life of young people, with a special focus on identity issues and resistance
  • on family politics and the conditions for parenthood
  • the collaboration between actors who are involved in social child care

Contact person

Professor Lars Plantin

Disability and rehabilitation and social psychiatry

The research within this area concerns physical, mental and intellectual impairments, which can lead to social exclusion. Such impairments can be obstacles to participation due to a lack of opportunities for equal participation, and of societal prerequisites for citizenship and health equality.

An important task for research is to analyse the interaction between the individual and society in, for example, the interplay between the welfare state, civil society and individuals living with disability.

This research addresses aspects such as:

  • politics and policy regarding participation, accessibility, influence and everyday life for persons with disability
  • assistance and the support of society, the use of aids, and professional decision-making
  • understandings and conceptualisations of the body

A closely-related area is social psychiatry with its focus on recovery and psychosocial interventions.


Senior lecturer Per Germundsson for questions relating to disability and rehabilitation.
Associate professor Magnus Englander for questions relating to social psychiatry.

Substance abuse and addiction

The research within this area concerns the problems that may arise as a result of drug misuse for individuals and the people closest to them, as well as for society. The control, support and care systems of society are also at the centre of this research.

Most of the research focuses on illegal narcotics, but there is also research on alcohol abuse. Some areas have been elucidated in a number of projects, and those areas are primarily: 

  • living conditions, life styles and risk taking among persons with drug problems
  • social and medical problems as well as mortality among persons who inject drugs
  • treatment and care of persons with substance abuse and addiction, within the social services and health care
  • drugs policy in Sweden and internationally

The use and misuse of, and the addiction to, drugs need to be analysed from a social perspective and related to social, cultural and political factors. Among other things, the consequences of individualisation, medicalisation and economisation are analysed in our research, with regard to individuals as well as the healthcare system and drugs policy.

The research is often based on an actor perspective, where the individuals’ reasons for drug use and the various functions and areas of use are central. Both qualitative and quantitative methods (interviews, surveys, register data, ethnography) are used, and in our projects we like to cooperate with practitioners, user organisations and persons with drug experiences of their own.

Structural and ecosocial inequality

The research within this area concerns questions at the interface of welfare and poverty issues, social policy, production patterns, working life and labour market, housing and the housing market, as well as migration regimes.

The interest is directed towards unequal conditions and opportunities, and precariousness, and also at how contemporary technologies, such as evaluation and digitalisation, interact with those circumstances. This includes an interest in ecosocial inequality regarding the connection between welfare and resource distribution issues, on the one hand, and ecological and physical as well as social dimensions of sustainability, on the other.

Contact person

Professor Carin Cuadra


The research within this area deals with the living conditions of the elderly from the perspectives of gender, ethnicity, migration and embodiment in care, but also with the organisation of both traditional and new forms of elderly care in the wake of demographical changes and increasing differences in social conditions and longevity. Furthermore, the research concerns working conditions and the restructuring of the welfare state, as well as the growing dependence on technological infrastructure, such as digitalisation.

Contact person

Professor Finnur Magnusson

Researchers, publications and projects

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Doctoral studies in Social work

Malmö University offers Doctoral studies in Social work.

Social Work is a study of individuals and groups in vulnerable life situations and of social conditions that affect people’s living conditions.

The studies take their point of departure in social problems but also include factors and strategies that prevent and counteract social marginalisation and exclusion. Social work also comprises studies of the social interventions and of the human service organisations which provide such interventions.

Contact for doctoral studies in Social work: Erica Righard

Read more about doctoral studies at Malmö University