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Social workers and intercultural mediators: challenges for collaboration and intercultural awareness

Publication Illustration
Genova, Angela. & Barberis, Eduardo.
European Journal of Social Work
Year of Publication

Social work in Europe is facing numerous challenges in terms of promoting the participation of migrants and their descendants in super-diverse societies. This study investigates collaboration between social workers and intercultural mediators based on international debate and fieldwork in Italy.

Does social work require collaboration with other professions specialised in intercultural relations? What are the characteristics of intercultural professionals? What are the pros and cons of collaboration between social workers and intercultural mediators? This study shows that local social services need to work with intercultural mediators, allowing local social services to implement various strategies for tackling cultural and linguistic barriers with their clients and rely on professionals inside or outside their own.

Furthermore, intercultural mediators tend to have weak and heterogeneous training backgrounds and working conditions. This article aims to contribute to the debate on the welfare reform process to support migrants and their descendants’ equal rights and participation in society, highlighting the need for collaboration between interculturally aware social workers and intercultural mediators to tackle institutional structural weaknesses in such professions as part of an organisational innovation process in social-welfare institutions.