Collective Professional Agency in Finnish Housing First Work
Using the perspective on transformative agency from Cultural-Historical Activity Theory, this project aims at developing a rigorous and systematic approach to grasp the process of collective agency and to generate viable pedagogical instruments to support homelessness workers in Finland. This process is still largely neglected, with detrimental consequences in particular on areas of work in which frontline professionals experience loss of control over their work practices and thus become exposed to considerable risks.
Since 2008, with three successive national programs, homelessness professionals in Finland have been retrained to carry out work informed by the Finnish Housing First principle. As a consequence, homelessness workers have developed a strong set of values and commitment to the eradication of homelessness. The emphasis on housing has led to extraordinary results, but in recent years a particularly demanding group of clients has emerged which requires the heaviest and most diverse services and whose housing solutions have repeatedly failed. A sustained effort at generating collective professional agency among these workers is at the moment a high priority.
This research project creates the conditions for the homelessness professionals in Tampere and nationally to share and discuss scattered innovations and to generate advanced solutions concerning particularly this group of clients with the help of workshops, an online videolibrary, and webforum. Videorecorded and transcribed data will be coded and analyzed by means of content analysis and using discourse analysis methods. The qualitative content analysis will be complemented by following the guidelines of using numerical data in explicitly interpretive and contextual inquiry. By these means the project creates the conditions to trace how collective agency is formed among these professionals, by which means and with which results.
The project has started in 2020 and mainly funded by the Finnish Work Environment Fund. The project strengthens the collaboration between the Faculty of Education and Culture, the City of Tampere, and Y-Foundation. Both the City of Tampere and Y-Foundation also contribute to the funding of the project.