Phase 1 – Subject-Orientated Research (-1990)

Already during my studies of education with a focus on social education/ social work I was interested in the social framework conditions and the theoretical approaches of personality theory. An important issue in that was the development of the individual ability to act. My diploma thesis with the title Wohnungslose sind gesellschaftliche Subjekte / (homeless people are social subjects) was based on the activity theory reflection of the historical-cultural school in the Soviet Union around Leont'ev and Vygotsky. I examined an open homeless service. Not, as usually happens, from the focus on how this facility works, but from the viewpoint of what relevance this drop-in point will have for the ability to act of its users. The result was quite disillusioning. Homeless people in a service are – briefly speaking – reduced to be passive, handout-taking users of the offers. This awareness had a massive effect on my research work in phase 4 (see there)


  • Schneider,Stefan: Wohnungslose sind gesellschaftliche Subjekte. Gesellschaftliche Bedingungen und individuelle Tätigkeiten am Beispiel der Besucher der Wärmestube Warmer Otto in Berlin - Moabit. Berlin 1990 (= Diplomarbeit am Fachbereich Erziehungswissenschaften der TU Berlin)

Phase 2 – Biographical- and condition of life-related research (1990-1993)

Within the scope of an empirical field research project I was able to explore the biographies and the conditions of life of homeless people on a point of time shortly after the peaceful revolution 1989 and the German Reunification. In these years the number of homeless people was significantly increasing and the structure of this group was essentially more differentiated and complex. In the course of this I was able to clarify the following: Traditionally the services for underprivileged and excluded people are orientated on their weak points. They try to comprehend the individual weak points very exactly and to get rid of them step by step. For a not small number homeless people this is exactly the reason they reject these services. They are not yet willing to expose themselves with their weak points. On the basis of the survey of several different biographies I was able to work out, that instead of this it will be more reasonable to focus on the strength of the respective personalities: The deciding factor are not the deficits, but the competencies, skills and attainments, which should be addressed, activated and sensible promoted to support a positive experience of personality and to support the development of the individual ability to act.


  • Schneider, Stefan: Wohnungslosigkeit und Subjektentwicklung. Biografien, Lebenslagen und Perspektiven Wohnungsloser in Berlin. Ergebnisse einer empirischen Untersuchung. Mit Fotos von Karin Powser. Berlin 1997 (= Dissertation, vorgelegt am Fachbereich Erziehungs- und Gesellschaftswissenschaften der Hochschule der Künste Berlin)

Phase 3 Computer & Education, Educating & Society (1993 – 1998)

In difference to an automaton, a computer is a programmable machine. As a programmable and, with hyperlinks, globally interconnected unit, it could do what mankind has always been able to do, but very much faster. But it could be, that technology will turn against humankind, even if it is used in the context of authority relations. This way or in a similar manner, the hypotheses I was working with were formulated at the Institut für Systematische Pädagogik Institut für Systematische Pädagogik /Institute of Systematic Pedagogy at the University of the Arts. Even in the computer and education workshop group I tried to measure the impact of the upcoming word-wide-web. At that time we were pioneers, who used email addresses at university (with a maximum of 8 characters before the @, that was the technical limit at that time) and we programmed our first website by hand <html>Stefans Homepage<head></head><body>Hallo, here I am </body></html>. We compared the impact of new media with the dramatic changes resulting from the rediscovery of letterpress printing by Johannes Gutenberg in the Middle Ages. One important thing that remains from these debates is the intention to bring also poor and underprivileged groups to the internet.

Another focus point of this phase was considering the basics of the science of education. Part of it included working with emancipatory classicists of education like Pestalozzi, Makarenkow, Freire and the confirming the basic terms of education and its principles.


  • Schneider, Stefan: motz & Co - Jetzt weltweit im Internet. In: wohnungslos. Aktuelles aus Theorie und Praxis zur Armut und Wohnungslosigkeit. 37. Jahrgang, 3/95. Bielefeld 1995, S. 115 – 11.

Phase 4 – Self-help, Self-Organisation, Empowerment, Sustainability, Emancipatory Practice (1995 – 2007)

In a strategically difficult phase of social work after the expansion of the ambulant services in the middle of the 1980s, the appearance of street papers and food banks around 1995 marked a essential new stage of social work with underprivileged groups of the society. The mail point of the innovation was, that element of self-help, self-determination and empowerment systematically have been integrated in conceptional considerations of social work. At this time I was able to develop my theoretical basics together with the people concerned in some concrete emancipatory projects. Part of it was the setting up of a street paper in Berlin, which was hardly orientated towards grassroots-movement principles. The creation of publicity and the implementation of campaigns to produce some attention as important elements of an aggressive practice of confrontation. After a first stabilisation it was possible to set up some more projects like a self-organized emergency shelter, a drop-in-centre with an integrated food supply, with offers of culture and counselling and a canteen, which was organized by the idea of food banks (donations of foods and its further processing). In a step further establishing and consolidating this approach it was even possible to run bigger projects of integration in the labour market - opening an second-hand-stuff-market, to establish a biweekly radio show, to install an internet presence, to ensure a permanent open and free internet access to the poor and homeless users of our services and also to realize a extensive and ambitious housebuilding project with 18 housing units.

Parallel to this step followed the theoretical assurance (history of self-organisation) and the scientific reflection of the different aspects of these work on the topic of the slogan chaotic professionalism.


  • Schneider, Stefan: Life on the Streets. Homeless in Germany (Lecture). Berlin/ Osaka 2006,

  • Schneider, Stefan: self – help project promoted by poor homeless people. Berlin/ Barcelona 2004 (Group of projects and actions that dignify the life of the homeless: From marginalization to citizenship. World Urban Forum – UN Habitat, in the Universal Forum of Cultures Barcelona)

  • Herbst, Kerstin / Schneider, Stefan: Selbsthilfe: Chaotische Professionalität. In: wohnungslos. Aktuelles aus Theorie und Praxis zur Armut und Wohnungslosigkeit. 45. Jahrgang, 3/2003. Bielefeld 2003, S. 9.

Phase 5 Social Policy, Community Politics (2001 - 2011)

In the phase the involvement with the different methodical and conceptional approaches of the social work was the central point, but also issues of the socio-political realisation of ideas, of quality development and -control, of financing and billing and cost control. The focus of the exercise include such important spheres of activity as child and youth services, family services, elderly care services and also the spheres of activity migration, integration and intercultural work. Also important was the debate in the political space beginning with the lobby work of concerned people on the organisation of services in welfare companies and organisations on the agenda of the authorities and the commissioning through the politics in the context of processes of negotiations.

Selected References

  • Schneider, Stefan: Armut per Gesetz? / Poverty by reason of law. Ein kurzer Blick auf die Situation von JobCenter Kunden in Pankow. / A short view of the situation of clients of the job center in pankow. Berlin 2008

Phase 6 Generalization, Contextualization (2007 -)

The nucleus of the scientific work at the present phase since 2007 is reflecting on more intensive current developments on the level of theory and progress of conceptions, to merge positions and to recognize, illuminate and encourage the development of tendencies on these levels. An important element is the awareness of globalization and its social effects. Simply the integration of more countries inside the European Union brought the aspect of intercultural social work an important task and it is absolutely necessary to reflect about migration and integration inside of the science of social work. The other side of this perspective is also to foreground the causes of the clients and users of social work even at international level. Issues of participation, of empowerment and self-organisation to the backdrop of fundamental changes of society should be attended on the level of scientific reflection and also by compiling some concrete recommendations for action. The internet is also confronted with an increase in its functions and has obtained interactive qualities. To adopt all of these tendencies and to survey their relevance to the field of the social work and the socio-political conditions is another emphasis of scientific work.

In the year 2008 the (small) European Institute of Social Science and Participation (eisop) was founded to organize the work more systematically. This institute is in the first place a dynamic, mobile and flexible network with the task of running bigger and smaller projects.

Through the perception of the works of the post-operationists around Hardt, Negri,Virno et al the analysis once more reached a new level, because now – as well on the theoretical level of terms as on empirical surveys of current tendencies – social theoretical ideas as the one of the multitude or the commons-production could be connected with positions of the internet theory as a loss of control, post-privacy, feedback generating- And these debates could also be connected with concrete questions and tasks of the future of social work.

Within my personal research approach the perspectives of the discriminated, disadvantaged, disenfranchised, excluded, poor and homeless are mandatory and also the objective to raise more capacity to act, participation, empowerment and changings together with the concerned people.

Selected References:

Last update: March 2012

Joomla template by a4joomla