Digital commitment: An obligation in modern social work practice.

Paper #1743 presented at #husITa14 in Melbourne, Australia, July 2014.


Myriam Antinori (Department for Social Work, Austria).


Social work as a human rights profession helps people to solve their problems and live their life in dignity. Individual support as well as advocacy are core tasks social workers have to accomplish in order to promote social change and social justice. Especially the Internet and Web 2.0 applications are very suitable to advocate for clients and causes as multiple examples show. Though there have been notable changes during the last 10 years, social work professionals still seem quite reluctant concerning the use of internet and computer technologies (ICT).

First, the research presented outlines the relations between social work theories, digitally enabled social change and social work practice (especially on mezzo and macro level). Second it tries to determine how small nonprofit organizations in an Austrian province use online technologies and what potential they think online tools have for social work practice. These results are completed by findings regarding the observation of their online activities.

The aim of this small scale quantitative and qualitative research is to figure out the gap between social work online realities and the actual requirements as well as possibilities of modern, professional social work.

The main reasons for this reluctance seem to be the lack of experience and expertise, financial resources but also awareness. These reasons can be explained by a general critical habitus skeptical of technology and a diminishing political awareness due to restrictive public funding policies.

In order to prevent social organizations from losing their advocacy power, they have to beware of a possible ‘organizational digital divide’ and take advantage of online technologies. Institutions need to catch up knowledge and need assistance from research to implement web-based services. Simultaneously the usage of ICT in social work practice has to be an integrated part in all Social Work education.


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