Maria Tereza Leal (Universitat de Barcelona)


Adela Boixadós (Universitat de Barcelona) Judit Castro (Universitat de Barcelona) Marta Arranz (Universitat de Barcelona) Angela García (Universitat de Barcelona) Sergi Sanchez (Universitat de Barcelona)

Topic: Social Work in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous Europe: a practical response model for social workers and social services
Language: English 


Europe is facing an unprecedented crisis regarding the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change. The effects of war in Ukraine and other world conflicts challenge migration and refugee services. Elder care services face increasing costs and demand, while mental health services struggle to help youngsters find their path.

How can Social Work deal with situations of apparent chaos, disorder, confusion and saturation? Despair, hopelessness, desperation and burn out are some of the consequences of this Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous world, identified by the acronym V.I.C.A.

The V.I.C.A. framework has been used by organizations to understand, analyze and act in very unpredictable and unstable environments. For Social Work, it offers a practical approach to diagnose and outline possible responses for service delivery.

According to the V.I.C.A. approach in order to strive in chaotic contexts organizations must be able to identify what is happening and how much information they have regarding the situation. Additionally, they must be able to know how much they can predict from the current chaos.

The combination of levels of information and predictability results in 4 possible scenarios: volatile, uncertain, complex or ambiguous. Consequently, the responses will be addressed to increase the information and knowledge available, as well as our ability to predict the results of our actions.

The objective of this communication is 1) to present the V.I.C.A. framework as a useful diagnostic tool for Social Workers to assess unstable and unpredictable situations and 2) to suggest how to outline possible responses combining the level of information and the predictability of events.

Accordingly to the conference theme, and against all odds, it is possible to navigate through a chaotic and unstable Europe using models that help Social Workers to better assess unprecedented environments and to design inclusive responses where no one is left behind!