Mobilization of conflict-affected communities: an attempt to reconstruct the content of social work in Ukraine
AbstractThe article attempts to reconstruct the content of modern social work on the basis of the experience of implementing the methodology of community mobilization for empowerment of vulnerable groups that corresponds to the actual social issue in Ukraine. The publication presents some of the results of a qualitative research carried out by the author in the framework of studying the experience of implementation of the United Nations Development Program and UN Women Joint Initiative "Restoration of Governance and Reconciliation in Crisis-Affected Communities of Ukraine" in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts financed by the EU. Combination of a constructivist approach and participative tools, narrative research practices and a critical approach in psychology and social work has become the methodological basis for the study. An analysis of the context has shown that the environment of the conflict-affected communities in eastern Ukraine is characterized by low level of active citizenship, lack of opportunities for decent work, income and living conditions, lack of institutional resources and capacities, gender inequality and gender-related violence, undeveloped social capital, weak ties between the government and the public sector. Community mobilization is shown as the mechanism of changing people's consciousness and the release of their hidden potential in the socio-psychological dimension, and tool of power dynamics and redistribution, change of power-dependent relations, empowerment of vulnerable and marginalized men and women in the perspective of political psychology. Community mobilization is seen as an approach that enables people to organize themselves for collective action by pooling resources and consolidating solidarity that is needed to solve common problems and work for the benefit of community growth. It promotes the active involvement of passive, isolated and vulnerable members of the community to participate in development through their own local initiatives, awareness raising and constructive dialogue at the political level. Speaking as "agents of change," community mobilizers contribute to "social cohesion and empowerment for the self-functioning of people in society, their liberation (emancipation)" (Global Definition of Social Work, 2014), thus ensuring the achievement of the goals of social work, as well as reframing and modifying the image of this profession in Ukraine.
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