About Social Pedagogy

Last month a reader asked what books we recommended to learn more about social pedagogy. Here is Gabriel Eichsteller’s advice.

There are still very few English books on social pedagogy. But in June Jessica Kingsley Publishers are publishing Social Pedagogy and Working with Children and Young People, edited by Claire Cameron and Peter Moss from the Thomas Coram Research Unit, which will fill this gap and promises to be a very good read both for theorists and practitioners.

In the meantime my recommendation is a book edited by three Scandinavian academics in social pedagogy, Gustavsson, Hermannson and Hamalainen (2003). It is based on a symposium about Perspectives and Theory in Social Pedagogy and provides a comprehensive overview of social pedagogies in different European countries. Best of all, it is freely available via the NCERCC website.

The Diversity of Social Pedagogy in Europe is also examined in a book edited by Kornbeck and Rosendahl Jensen (2009).

For all those interested in comparisons between social pedagogy and UK residential child care practice, I would recommend Working with Children in Care by Pat Petrie and her colleagues from TCRU (2006). It provides an excellent insight into how social pedagogues work.

For people more interested in the early years, but also in a coherent conceptual framework of (social) pedagogy, there are several brilliant books about Reggio Emilia. The Hundred Languages of Children by Edwards, Gandini and Forman (1993), for instance, outlines important notions of the ‘rich child’ and relationship-centred practice, which underpin social pedagogy more widely than just in the early years.

The other book that is highly recommendable is Mark Smith’s (2009) Re-thinking Residential Child Care. It has got an excellent chapter on social pedagogy and is very much in line with social pedagogic principles throughout.

Full references to these and other books we would recommend are on our website www.thempra.org.uk/links4.

There are more articles, which could be of interest as well. I won’t mention the ones published in the Children Webmag, as I assume that people would have found these comfortably. (See the heading Social Pedagogy under Archives.)

Juhu Hamalainen (2003) wrote a brilliant article in the Journal of Social Work about The Concept of Social Pedagogy, which traces back the way that social pedagogy emerged and unpicks some of its intricacies. It also explains why social pedagogy is not about using particular methods, but about an ethical and theoretical orientation.

Another article very worth reading in the JSW is Walter Lorenz’s (2008) Paradigms and Politics. Lorenz outlines how social pedagogy has developed in connection to the social welfare state and analyses its interrelations with social policies, which have shaped social work methods across different societies in different ways.

Coussee and his colleagues from the University of Ghent (2008) have contributed to the discourse about social pedagogy in the UK by highlighting the importance of the ‘social’ in social pedagogy and why the socio-political aspect must not be omitted. Given that the terms pedagogy and social pedagogy are often used synonymously over here, that distinction – and the potential it contains – is an important one to consider.

For those more interested in German social pedagogy, Grunwald and Thiersch (2009) have outlined The Concept of the Lifeworld Orientation, which underpins most German social care professions. The article argues that it is fundamental for successful practice to aim to understand the world as the client perceives it. Through this orientation on the client’s life-world, professionals can better relate to the client and intervene in ways that have a positive and meaningful impact on the everyday-life of the client.

All of these articles are more theoretical, so for readers more interested in the practice, I would recommend an article Social Pedagogy in Practice by Sylvia Holthoff and me (2009). We have aimed to outline how social pedagogy theory relates to practice.

There are also several good reports providing an insight into social pedagogy from a more practical perspective – most notably the Children in Scotland Report (2010) Exploring the Benefits of Social Pedagogy. This narrates the experiences of a Scottish delegation who went to different Danish daycare centres, children’s homes, afterschool clubs, etc.

And colleagues at the TCRU have published a range of articles about their comprehensive research and analysis of the potential of social pedagogy. A detailed list of these and other relevant articles can be found on www.thempra.org.uk/links3.

I hope this helps point interested readers in the right direction. It would be really good to see this as an invitation for readers to share their suggestions on essential social pedagogy reading, so if you have other references, please write in.

Below are the full references to the publications mentioned.

Coussée, F., Bradt, L., Roose, R., & Doverne-De Bie, M. (2008). The Emerging Social Pedagogical Paradigm in UK Child and Youth Care: Deus Ex Machina or Walking the Beaten Path? The British Journal of Social Work, 147.

Edwards, C., Gandini, L. & Forman, G. (1993). The Hundred Languages of Children. Norwood: Ablex.

Grunwald, K. and Thiersch, H. (2009) The Concept of the Lifeworld Orientation for Social Work and Social Care. Journal of Social Work Practice 23(2), 131—146.

Gustavsson, A., Hermansson, H.-E., & Hamalainen, J. (2003). Perspectives and Theory in Social Pedagogy. Gothenburg: Daidalos

Hämäläinen, J. (2003). The Concept of Social Pedagogy in the Field of Social Work. Journal of Social Work, 3(1), 69-80

Holthoff, S. & Eichsteller, G. (2009). Social Pedagogy in Practice. Every Child Journal, 1(1).

Kornbeck, J. & Rosendal Jensen, N. (2009). The Diversity of Social Pedagogy in Europe. Bremen: Europäischer Hochschulverlag.

Lorenz, W. (2008) Paradigms and Politics: Understanding Methods Paradigms in an Historical Context: The Case of Social Pedagogy. The British Journal of Social Work 38(4), 625—644.

Petrie, P., Boddy, J., Cameron, C., Wigfall, V. & Simon, A. (2006). Working with Children in Care – European Perspectives. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

1 thought on “About Social Pedagogy”

  1. The book Social Pedagogy and Working with Children and Young People: Where Care and Education Meet (edited by Claire Cameron & Peter Moss) is being launched at the Institute of Education, London on 20 June, along with Communication Skills for Working with Children and Young People: Introducing Social Pedagogy (by Pat Petrie). Both are published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.


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