Social work and countering violent extremism in Sweden and the UK

Jo Finch*, Jessica H. Jonsson, Masoud Kamali, David McKendrick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
149 Downloads (Pure)


Social Work in Europe, is now being tasked with managing the ‘problems’ of terrorism, i.e supporting those affected by terrorist attacks, managing returnees affiliated with Terrorist groups in the Middle East, or, as will be discussed here, identifying those at risk from radicalisation and extremism. Both Britain and Sweden have Counter-Terrorism policies, but recent developments in both countries have made it a statutory requirement for social workers to work within such policies. This paper seeks to explore the policies in both countries, utilising a comparative approach to consider the similarities in not only policy and practice but also in the ethical consequences such policies pose for social workers across Europe. The exploration considers; the extent to which anti-radicalisation policies influence social work practices in Sweden and the UK and how they might undermine social work as a human rights profession. The results indicate that anti-radicalisation policies run the risk of reducing social work to become a ‘policing profession’ practising social control. This has substantial consequences for social work and its global ethics, which should be considered and struggled against by social workers committed to principles of social justice and human rights.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-130
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Work
Issue number1
Early online date11 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2022


  • social work
  • counter-terrorism
  • radicalisation
  • extremism
  • racism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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