Additional Reading


 Abstract Doctoral Thesis

Rättyä. Lea. Diaconal work as individual and social aid in the social change.

Kuopio University Publications E. Social Sciences 179. 2009. 204 s.

ISBN 978-951-27-1238-0

ISBN 978-951-27-1309-7 (PDF)

ISSN 1235-0494


The aim and the background of the study. Diaconal work has a long history in helping people in need. The significance and the mission of diaconal work was emphasized in Finland during the economic recession at the beginning of the 1990s. The deepening economic recession at the end of the first decade of this century challenges the diaconal workers to discuss and develop their work and working methods in helping people in the rapidly changing society. The aim of this study was to describe and analyze diaconal workers’ perceptions concerning the contents of their work and the challenges set to work by the social change. In addition, the aim was to introduce the structural factors of the society that the diaconal workers wanted to change in their work and the skills that the diaconal workers in social participation are expected to have. Furthermore, the aim was to illustrate the principles and methods of diaconal individual, family, and community work in helping people, and the guide lines of social participation and development of work in diaconal work. On the basis of the results, the preliminary pattern illustrating diaconal work in social change was developed.

Data and methods. The first data for this qualitative study were collected between November 1999 and March 2000 from all diaconal workers in the congregations of Oulu diocese (n=153) and the second data were collected in September 2006 from all diaconal workers participating in the symposium dealing with diaconal and social work of Oulu diocese (n=76) by using questionnaires consisting of open questions. The answers were analyzed by databased content analysis.

Results. Based on the results, the diaconal workers wanted to seize the structural social factors which caused problems related to people’s work, family life and living, increase in discrimination, change in values and lack of public services. In order to be able to influence the above mentioned structural factors in society, the diaconal workers, according to their descriptions, would need skills in politics, information spreading, counseling, and research. In addition, they would need ability in authoritative influencing, helping, cooperation and managing in work, and motivation. By means of diaconal work on individual, family and social level, people, families and communities needing help were aided. In their work the diaconal workers benefited their social skills by social activity, which meant collaboration, bringing people to the community and mutual helping.

Sociology Thesaurus: Deacons; Church work; Family social work; Qualitative research; Content analysis (Communication)