Dimensions of social rehabilitation: A qualitative interpretive meta-synthesis

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Summary: Social rehabilitation is conceived to encompass services that concentrate specifically on the social aspect of the rehabilitation process. This interpretive qualitative meta-synthesis of 25 social scientific research papers published between 1980 and 2019 dealing with the concept of social rehabilitation aims to unpack the different dimensions of the social within social rehabilitation in different contexts. Findings: In most of the articles, the causes for social rehabilitation are located in the rehabilitee’s social environment, community, or structure, and for the rehabilitation to be successful, a change is expected to take place also in these parties. Moreover, personally significant values and wishes are emphasized in many approaches viewing the rehabilitee as an agent in his/her own rehabilitation process. In a few articles, however, the individual is viewed as aberrant, and his/her conforming to societal norms is seen as forming the core of social rehabilitation. In this approach, the individual is viewed as the object of rehabilitation without much control over his/her own rehabilitation process. Applications: The results of our study suggest that, to improve existing social rehabilitation practices, more effort should be put into acknowledging and considering the rehabilitee’s autonomy as a relational concept. Also, the needs for, foci, and aims of social rehabilitation should not be reduced to a certain kind of practice directed to certain kinds of client groups, but, rather, social rehabilitation should be understood as an entity consisting of interrelated and interdependent components forming a constantly shifting assemblage.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Social Work
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Dec 2020
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • conceptual issues
  • disability
  • meta-analysis
  • qualitative research
  • social justice
  • Social work

Field of science

  • Social work


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