Skip to main content

Principles of social-space orientated work


1. Orientation to the expressed interest of the resident population



The experts do not speculate about what might be interesting for people in a living quarter, they ask them directly: "What´s interesting for you?". So they are not assuming what might be good for the people, they check with the people what their interests and needs are. Approach of the work is always the will of the concerned people or groups.



2. Support of self-help and individual initiative



The experts try to avoid doing things without the people. Instead they involve the concerned people and ask them what they think they can do to improve their situation and only later approach the people with caring and programme orientated offers.


3. Using resources


a)      of the people: social work is often confronted with and focused on supposed deficits of people. Social-space orientated approaches, though, always have their strengths in mind - strengths that shine through the deficits. A teenager convicted of theft is often exactly the right person to mind the group´s piggy bank; a woman annoyed by her husband and children is often the perfect spokesperson for the tenant´s initiative and the odd, reclusive old Gentleman might be the best occasional magician at neighbourhood party.



b)      of social-space: rooms, neighbourhoods, places, nature, streets but also existing company- and service structures might be significant resources to use effectively by clever networking. So a cold concrete wall doesn´t necessarily have to be a nuisance - it can be used as canvas or big screen or to plaster it with city information.


4. Cross target group approach



You have to look for activities that as many people as possible would like to join. A scheme to improve living conditions in a neighbourhood often offers the chance to involve many groups of the residents. This does not exclude target group specific activities, but these are included in the context of other activities that do not stigmatize a specific target group in advance.


5. Crossfunctional approach


City district work utilizes the skills of other sectors and completes them. For example, in the residential sector social housing, housing allowance, emergency shelters or building plans are highly important. Social work deals with the consequences and offers debt counselling, avoids homelessness, work for homeless people, so applies a classical approach in a stadium of social collapse. In contrast to that, the knowldege of social workers referring to developed areas and social abnormalities could be used for the planning of new housing estates. Social work has to come from the mentality of the subordinated instance and point out its professional competence for other disciplines, just like cross-institutional activity groups or projects.


6. Co-operation and co-ordination of social services




Networking encourages people who are active in the housing quarters (professionals and volunteers) to come together and co-operate to develop common projects in relation to individual incidents, groups or actions.


Literature reference:

Hinte, Wolfgang (2002): Von der Gemeinwesenarbeit über die Stadtteilarbeit zum Quartiersmanagement. In: Thole, Werner (2002) (Hg.) Grundriss Sozialer Arbeit. Ein einführendes Handbuch. Opladen, S. 540-541.

Social space orientated work - the principles

Your contact

Stabsstelle Bezirksstellen/Kirchliche Allgemeine Sozialarbeit (KASA)
Joachim Wenzel
Diakonisches Werk Bayern e.V.
Postfach 120320
90332 Nürnberg Bayern