Researching the role of social work in the non-take-up of welfare rights: a retrospective analysis of the pathways of people in poverty

01 January 2019 → 31 December 2022
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Applied sociology
    • Policy and administration
    • Social psychology
    • Social stratification
    • Social theory and sociological methods
    • Sociology of life course, family and health
    • Other sociology and anthropology
Project description

Although people in poverty are formally entitled to welfare rights, recent research shows that they
often do not take up these rights in practice. Hence, this research project aims to acquire thorough
insights in the complex processes at play in the (non-)take-up of welfare rights in situations of
poverty and to examine the role of social work in this context. The project builds on three basic
premises: (1) it captures the (non-)take-up of welfare rights in the interplay between the agency of
people in poverty and the structural resources made available to them; (2) it employs a multidimensional
definition of the non-take-up of welfare rights, which takes account of material as well
as immaterial structural resources; and (3) it adopts a research approach that embraces the
inherent dynamics in people’s lives in order to deepen our knowledge about the complex processes
at stake in the (non-)take-up of welfare rights in situations of poverty. The interpretative paradigm
of life world orientation is used as an innovative theoretical framework that enables us to
profoundly examine how social workers can realize welfare rights by building upon the everyday
experiences and strategies of people who do not receive or make use of their welfare rights.
Considering these points of departure, we methodologically rely on the pathways approach, which
offers opportunities to systematically explain the dynamics underpinning the (non-)take-up of
welfare rights.