Department of Sociology and Social Work

Aim and focus of SCOPAS - Shaping concepts, practice and advances in social work

The aim of the research group is to develop theoretical perspectives, concepts, models and practices that strengthen knowledge, reflection on and development of social work.

Social work is an important but also dilemma-filled social project in which ideas such as democracy, solidarity, community, social justice and humanity are key subjects. More specifically, social work can be perceived as complex forms of organizing and practice that seek to promote social change and well-being in the tension between prevailing societal concerns, political, economic, and governance rationales, perceptions of social problems and human living conditions. There are fundamental dilemmas here, such as being expressed in knowledge, power and interpersonal relations. 

In a Danish and Nordic context, social work is often associated with professionalised and institutionalised interventions within the framework of the social, political and legally regulated sectors of the welfare state, areas, target groups, organisations and interventions. However, social work as a field of research can also be explored and conceptualised as social organizations and/or practices in society that transcend, and thus also challenge professionalised and institutionalised divisions. In exploring the tension field and the interaction between these forms of social work lies the opportunity to challenge and develop the varying forms, practices and purposes of social work. 

The research group challenges, experiments with and combines theories from different scientific traditions and disciplines. Because social work is directed towards and is part of complex human, societal and social conditions and processes that also involve psychological, biological, material and physical conditions, the group is actively working to promote interdisciplinary research and conceptual development. The ambition is to contribute to international social science theory and concept development with a focus on social work. The ambition is thus also to contribute to the development of the knowledge base of social work and the ability to relate critically reflected, innovative and innovative to societal changes and challenges. 

The research group conducts empirical studies that explore and challenge existing systems, discourses, fields, institutions, organizations, categories and practices that define social problems and social work. Research is being carried out across what are now defined as areas, sectors, organizations, specialisations, professions and target groups in social work. Concepts and understandings are explored in practice. Hidden aspects, changes in and new forms of development in and around social work are explored. This also applies to phenomena which are not generally perceived as social work, but where knowledge of them can contribute to critical reflection and development of new understandings in and of social work. In order to explore and challenge existing understandings of social work and social problems, SCOPAS incorporates historical, contemporary/contemporary, local and global dimensions. 

The research group works methodically experimentally with the aim of capturing fundamental aspects of social work in society. Various qualitative and quantitative methods are used and combined, enabling cross-scientific and cross-cutting empirical knowledge of the practical complexity of social work, as well as knowledge of conditions, mechanisms and processes that influence the practice of social work. 

The research group often cooperates with national and international researchers, research groups and networks to contribute to the development of research, including the development of comparative empirical and theoretical studies across different forms of social work and society. 

The research group contributes to long-term 'social impact', where knowledge contributes to critical reflection and innovation with the aim of promoting the development of social work. This is done through dialogue, cooperation with and dissemination of knowledge to social work actors as an integral part of the research process. This is also done by engaging in research and development projects in cooperation with practices where there is potential for meaningful development of the knowledge base, welfare and social change of social work. Finally, this is done through the training of professionals and decision-makers in social work. The research group contributes, among other things, to research-based teaching on the Master's Programme in Social Work, Erasmus Advanced Development of Social Work, Nordic master in Social Work and Welfare and the Social Worker Education. 

Contact SCOPAS

Contact Maria Appel Nissen, Head of Research, SCOPAS - Shaping concepts, practice and advances in social work, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Aalborg University

Head of research Maria Appel Nissen

Kroghstraede 7, room 1
9220 Aalborg East

Phone: +45 9940 7292, +45 2749 5677

Co-Head of Research Mia Arp Fallov

Frederikskaj 10B, C, room 108
2450 København South West

Phone: +45 9940 8110

Department of Sociology and Social Work • Fibigerstraede 13 • 9220  Aalborg East  • Phone: +45 9940 8310 • Email:
Vat no.: 5798000420649 • P numbers; Aalborg: 1012066143, Copenhagen: 1018019139