Social Work and Environment - Sustainable
Communities
Helena Belchior Rocha - helenar2@hotmail.com
Doctoral thesis in progress with the title "Social Work
and Environment - Ecological sustainability of
social vulnerable communities.“
The environmental issue analyzed in a context of
sustainable development introduces significant
changes in social and academic settings and points
to the necessary interdisciplinary approach and
critical process.
Page  2
 Conceptual thinking
- Sustainable development
- Environment
- Interdisciplinarity
Sustainable Development
economic, social, political,
institutional, cultural, ecological,
territorial, human
Page  3
 Preliminary questions:
 What are the relationships between environmental issues
and social services?
 What justifies the practice of social workers in this
space?
 What role falls to the Social Work with interdisciplinary
teams to research projects focused on the environment?
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 Projects like the Eco-villas allow the articulation of
social work praxis with new ecological paradigms,
empowerment approach and inclusion.
 The idea is to create a model that combines the
Multifocal Vision (Lee, Judith, 2001), the Empowerment
Approach and the concept of Ecological Communities.
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 Portugal is deeply affected by the changes brought by
the globalization of markets and the advance of neoliberalism. Currently, the country experiences a moment
of uncertainty, because the re-arrangements of the
international policies further deepened the differences.
 The return to questioning that we have seen in various
sectors of social life means nothing but the search for a
new social order, consequence of the rapidly changing of
societies and that gave rise to questions about the
implications of the new European Social Policy Agenda
in the professional practice of social workers in terms of
its principles / values and ethical-political foundations.
Page  6
In the contemporary world, environmental issues
cross all areas of social life and knowledge.
 New challenges are placed because of the
society changes, resulting from advances in
technology and science. On the other hand,
rights level, is one of questions faced by social
workers, at a time, when, there are new
frameworks of social policies and rights are
undermine.
Page  7
 Due to its characteristics and history the Boavista neighborhood
was the subject of this preliminary study for the PhD thesis in
process. The origin of Boavista dates back to 1938. Portugal was a
little industry, with mainstream services and domestic economies,
one of the lowest in Europe.
 Boavista in 1938
Page  8
Since then this neighborhood had seven stages
of implementation.
On May 1, 1997, the Lisbon City Hall created
Gebalis - Company Management of Municipal
Districts of Lisbon, Public Company, which
mission, as a company, is the management,
maintenance and modernization of the municipal
districts and promoting the social integration of
its residents.
Page  9
 The Lisbon City Hall wanted to implant in the district, an
eco neighborhood (eco-villa) and worked for two years
on the project that was presented to the European
Community and approved in January 2010. Through a
local partnership between the Lisbon City Hall and
Gebalis a protocol was signed for the application of an
action called "policy of cities - partnerships for urban
regeneration" "Eco-Neighborhood Boavista-Environment
+ - An Integrated model for Sustainable Innovation.
Page  10
 In terms of methodology we chose to use the inductive
method, supported by using techniques of data collection
such as:
 documental research which will gather some literature able to
frame the issue;
 questionnaire developed to be applied as a composite sample
for 30 individuals living in the neighborhood of Boavista to
make a first approach to a target population of the project
under study;
 four (4) semi-directive interviews to social workers specialists
in community intervention directly or indirectly linked to the
issues of resettlement in housing estates.
Page  11
 The variables chosen for the survey were: Age, sex,
marital status, education, work status, number of members
of the household, number of employees of the household,
living conditions, neighborhood infrastructure (in this
case 80% consider good the piped water neighborhood
services, the Cleanness of the Streets is medium (60%)
and the sewage as well. Public safety was the variable
considered most poor (70%), access to other
neighborhoods and transportation were classified as
medium, as well as street lighting; school / nursery,
ranged from medium (50%) and Bad (20%); there is no
public health center in the neighborhood, recreation areas
and local businesses, so the opinion shared by the
respondents was between medium and bad.
Page  12
 We understood by the observation made in loco that the
infrastructures of the neighborhood are weak and that
the residents would like to see them improved.
 Other variables are residence time in the neighborhood,
like to live in the neighborhood (the majority of
respondents (80%) like to live in neighborhood and
justified by saying that the reasons are because they
have a house, other because they live in the
neighborhood for many years, have become accustomed
and because of friendships.
 Other people (20%) do not like living in the neighborhood
because of: drug trafficking, insecurity, discrimination or
they have no choice.
Page  13
 Know what is an eco-neighborhood (the majority of
respondents do not know what is an Eco-neighborhood
(70%) and the remaining 30% say they know, but can’t
explain well).
 Do you know the project for the New Eco-neighborhood:
The majority of respondents are aware of the project
(Eco-Neighborhood) (60%) and the remaining 40% said
they do not know, never heard.
 Do you consider the project good for the neighborhood
all respondents consider good for the neighborhood this
new project.
Page  14
 However, the need to understand that this issue poses a
challenge for the professionals in the exercise of their
profession we created a selection criterion for the
interviews, namely, to exercise any institutional
responsibility and possess academic reflection on the
matter.
 From this criterion we selected a convenience sample,
consisting on four (4) social workers in different areas of
activity of the profession and we applied them a semidirective interview during the month of May 2010.
Page  15
 As technique for the data processing we used the content
analysis of categorical type. This coding was based on two
broad categories that comprise six sub-categories,
respectively:
 Intervention in a Communitarian Context
-
Importance of the Social Worker role in the correction of
inequalities;
-
Type of action;
-
Help relation.
 The Profissional Practice of the Social Worker
-
Relationship with the Individuals;
-
Skills Required;
-
Interdisciplinary Intervention;
Page  16
 The first major challenge faced today by the Social Worker is
of structural nature, the employment crisis, the climate of
uncertainty, social demographic and economic changes, new
forms of governance in a globalized world and the worsening
of social problems.
 It was understood that practitioners are aware of their
limitations facing limited financial resources and other
difficulties and with the changes that occurs in everyday life,
there is a need to revise and refine their interventions.
 The data showed that the professionals are aware of the social
worker political commitment concerning the changes, and
understand that the construction of citizenship is the product
of a mix of relationships, involving state and civil society.
Page  17
 Despite all the work that has already been developed, it is
necessary to extend this mission, insisting on the change of
mindsets that leads to effective behavioral change. There are
many people talking about the need for change for a better
life on this planet where evil, unfortunately, seems to have
fixed its empire of greed, ambition, selfishness and
consumerism, luxuries and vanities, immorality and iniquities,
perverting the true values ​of life.
 It is important to realize that all this is not good for
anyone but we have an alternative - to move the course
of things and build up a better society, with more
transparency and more love.
Page  18
 We are living in a unique historical moment in which we have
to actually take the courage to transform our knowledge and
sharing it. There can be no social cohesion in a society,
where the citizens can not satisfy their basic needs and
therefore are excluded and live on the margins of society.
 This is the Social Workers challenge: to create conditions
for groups and families enjoying their rights, access to
resources, participate socially and be involved as
protagonists of their own lives and in the society where they
belong, in order to be autonomous and responsible citizens.
The ability to work in everyday life from this perspective is
from a unique richness, and this is instituted as a peculiarity
of our profession: a profession of intervening nature, with a
deep social significance.
Page  19
 Poverty and social exclusion are not problems of today.
 Portugal has not yet reached the level of equity and
cohesion of other countries, partly due to the fact that
only very late these questions have been recognized as
problems of the state.
 When one says that all development is social
development means development of people, of all
people, who are alive today and who will live tomorrow.
 In other words,
sustainable.
Page  20
human
development,
social
and
Bibliography
 Adams, Robert. (2008). Empowerment, Participation and Social Work. 3rd edn. Nova York, Palgrave
Macmillan.
 Adams, Robert, Dominelli, Lena, Payne, Malcolm. (2009). Critical Practice in Social Work. New York.
Palgrave Macmillan.
 Almeida, João Ferreira de et al. (2002). A Exclusão Social, factores e tipos de pobreza em Portugal.
Oeiras: Celta Editora.
 Arenth, Hannah. (1958). A Condição Humana, Rio de Janeiro. Forense Universitária. 1991.
 Ataide, Isabel Maria. (1960). Serviço Social de Comunidades, ISS, (s/l).
 Autés, Michel. (1999). Les parodoxes du travail social, Paris. Dunod.
 Barbieri, José Carlos. (1997). Desenvolvimento e Meio Ambiente: As estratégias de mudanças da Agenda
21. Petropolis. RJ, Vozes.
 Beck, Ulrich. (1992). Risk Society, Towards a New Modernity, London. Sage.
 Becker, Dinizar Fermiano et al. (2002). Desenvolvimento Sustentável: Necessidade ou Possibilidade?.
Santa Cruz do Sul: Edunisc.
 Bodernave, Juan E. Díaz. (1993).O que é participação. 6ª Ed. São Paulo, Brasiliense.
 Bronfenbrenner, U. (1996). A Ecologia do Desenvolvimento Humano: Experimentos Naturais e
Planejados. Porto Alegre, Artes Médicas.
 Bucknall, J et al. Capítulo sobre meio Ambiente. (s/d). Disponível em:
http://www1.worldbank.org/prem/poverty/portuguese/strategies/srcbook/env0118.pdf Acesso em: 07 Maio.
2010
Page  21

Bibliography
 Castells, Manuel. (2003). Identidades territorias: A Comunidade Local in O Poder da identidade. Lisboa:
Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.
 Cavalcanti, Clóvis (org.). (1998). Desenvolvimento e Natureza: Estudos para uma Sociedade Sustentável.
São Paulo: Cortez,
 Documento de Candidatura à acção Politica das Cidades – Parcerias para a regeneração urbana, Aviso nº
05PRU, 2009, Lisboa.
 Dominelli, Lena. (2004) . Social Work: theory and practice for a changing profession, Cambridge: Polity
Press.
 Ely, Aloísio. (1988). Economia do meio ambiente: uma apreciação introdutória interdisciplinar da poluição,
ecologia e qualidade ambiental. (3ª.ed). Porto Alegre: FEE. Estoril: Principia Editora.
 Freynet, Marie-France. 1995. Les médiations du travail social: contre l´exclusion, (re)construire les liens,
Lyon. Chronique Sociale.
 Friedman, Jonh, (1996). Empowerment – Uma Política de Desenvolvimento Alternativo, (1ªed), Celta, Oeiras.
 Gomez, J. e al. (2007). Serviço Social e Meio Ambiente S.Paulo: Editora Cortez.
 Hoven, Rudy Van den. (2002). O trabalho social comunitário, Serviço Social: Unidade na Diversidade –
Encontro com a Identidade Profissional, Actas do I Congresso Nacional de Serviço Social, APSS, pp. 94-99.
 Lee, Judith A. B. (2001). The Empowerment Approach to Social Work Practice. New York. Columbia
University Press.
 Leonard, H. Jeffrey (org). (1992). Meio Ambiente e Pobreza: Estratégias de Desenvolvimento para uma
agenda comum. Rio de Janeiro: Delta Line Composições e Edições Ltda.
Page  22
Bibliography
 Magnet, Myron. (2001). Paradigma Urbano: as cidades do novo milénio. Lisboa: Quetzal.
 Mouro, Helena. (2009). Modernização do serviço social: da sociedade industrial à sociedade do risco.
Coimbra: Almedina.
 Oliver-Smith, Anthony. (2004). ‘Theorizing vulnerability in a globalized world: a political ecological
perspective’ In Mapping vulnerability: disasters, development & people, by G. Bankoff, G. Frerks and D.
Hilhorst. Sterling, VA: Earthscan.
 Sachs, Ignacy. (2002). Caminhos para o Desenvolvimento Sustentável. Rio de Janeiro: Garamond,.
 Sachs, Ignacy. Estratégias de transição para o Século XXI: Desenvolvimento e meio ambiente. Sao
Paulo: Studio Nobel, 1993.
 Sen, Amartya. (1999). Desenvolvimento como liberdade, Companhia das Letras, São Paulo.
 Walgrave, Lode, (2000). Vulnerabilidade societal e acção social., in Da não integração. Coimbra:
Quarteto.
 Veiga, José Eli da. (2005). Desenvolvimento Sustentável: o desafio do Século XXI. Rio de Janeiro:
Garamond.
 Viscarret, J. (2009). Modelos y Métodos de Intervención en Trabajo Social (pp. 259-306). Madrid: Alianza
Editorial.
Page  23
Bibliography
 Adams, Robert. (2008). Empowerment, Participation and Social Work. 3rd edn. Nova York, Palgrave
Macmillan.
 Adams, Robert, Dominelli, Lena, Payne, Malcolm. (2009). Critical Practice in Social Work. New York.
Palgrave Macmillan.
 Almeida, João Ferreira de et al. (2002). A Exclusão Social, factores e tipos de pobreza em Portugal.
Oeiras: Celta Editora.
 Arenth, Hannah. (1958). A Condição Humana, Rio de Janeiro. Forense Universitária. 1991.
 Ataide, Isabel Maria. (1960). Serviço Social de Comunidades, ISS, (s/l).
 Autés, Michel. (1999). Les parodoxes du travail social, Paris. Dunod.
 Barbieri, José Carlos. (1997). Desenvolvimento e Meio Ambiente: As estratégias de mudanças da Agenda
21. Petropolis. RJ, Vozes.
 Beck, Ulrich. (1992). Risk Society, Towards a New Modernity, London. Sage.
 Becker, Dinizar Fermiano et al. (2002). Desenvolvimento Sustentável: Necessidade ou Possibilidade?.
Santa Cruz do Sul: Edunisc.
 Bodernave, Juan E. Díaz. (1993).O que é participação. 6ª Ed. São Paulo, Brasiliense.
 Bronfenbrenner, U. (1996). A Ecologia do Desenvolvimento Humano: Experimentos Naturais e
Planejados. Porto Alegre, Artes Médicas.
 Bucknall, J et al. Capítulo sobre meio Ambiente. (s/d). Disponível em:
http://www1.worldbank.org/prem/poverty/portuguese/strategies/srcbook/env0118.pdf Acesso em: 07 Maio.
2010
Page  24

Bibliography
 Castells, Manuel. (2003). Identidades territorias: A Comunidade Local in O Poder da identidade. Lisboa:
Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.
 Cavalcanti, Clóvis (org.). (1998). Desenvolvimento e Natureza: Estudos para uma Sociedade Sustentável.
São Paulo: Cortez,
 Documento de Candidatura à acção Politica das Cidades – Parcerias para a regeneração urbana, Aviso nº
05PRU, 2009, Lisboa.
 Dominelli, Lena. (2004) . Social Work: theory and practice for a changing profession, Cambridge: Polity
Press.
 Ely, Aloísio. (1988). Economia do meio ambiente: uma apreciação introdutória interdisciplinar da poluição,
ecologia e qualidade ambiental. (3ª.ed). Porto Alegre: FEE. Estoril: Principia Editora.
 Freynet, Marie-France. 1995. Les médiations du travail social: contre l´exclusion, (re)construire les liens,
Lyon. Chronique Sociale.
 Friedman, Jonh, (1996). Empowerment – Uma Política de Desenvolvimento Alternativo, (1ªed), Celta, Oeiras.
 Gomez, J. e al. (2007). Serviço Social e Meio Ambiente S.Paulo: Editora Cortez.
 Hoven, Rudy Van den. (2002). O trabalho social comunitário, Serviço Social: Unidade na Diversidade –
Encontro com a Identidade Profissional, Actas do I Congresso Nacional de Serviço Social, APSS, pp. 94-99.
 Lee, Judith A. B. (2001). The Empowerment Approach to Social Work Practice. New York. Columbia
University Press.
 Leonard, H. Jeffrey (org). (1992). Meio Ambiente e Pobreza: Estratégias de Desenvolvimento para uma
agenda comum. Rio de Janeiro: Delta Line Composições e Edições Ltda.
Page  25
Bibliography
 Magnet, Myron. (2001). Paradigma Urbano: as cidades do novo milénio. Lisboa: Quetzal.
 Mouro, Helena. (2009). Modernização do serviço social: da sociedade industrial à sociedade do risco.
Coimbra: Almedina.
 Oliver-Smith, Anthony. (2004). ‘Theorizing vulnerability in a globalized world: a political ecological
perspective’ In Mapping vulnerability: disasters, development & people, by G. Bankoff, G. Frerks and D.
Hilhorst. Sterling, VA: Earthscan.
 Sachs, Ignacy. (2002). Caminhos para o Desenvolvimento Sustentável. Rio de Janeiro: Garamond,.
 Sachs, Ignacy. Estratégias de transição para o Século XXI: Desenvolvimento e meio ambiente. Sao
Paulo: Studio Nobel, 1993.
 Sen, Amartya. (1999). Desenvolvimento como liberdade, Companhia das Letras, São Paulo.
 Walgrave, Lode, (2000). Vulnerabilidade societal e acção social., in Da não integração. Coimbra:
Quarteto.
 Veiga, José Eli da. (2005). Desenvolvimento Sustentável: o desafio do Século XXI. Rio de Janeiro:
Garamond.
 Viscarret, J. (2009). Modelos y Métodos de Intervención en Trabajo Social (pp. 259-306). Madrid: Alianza
Editorial.
Page  26
Social Work and Environment - Sustainable
Communities
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Social Work and Environment