Marc-Henry SOULET

Soiology, University of Fribourg, Switzerland

Fellowship : October 2016 to June 2017

Discipline(s) : Sociology

Pays : Switzerland

Project research : "Social work: an activity of prudential professional self-conceptualization. An attempt to model an integrated theory of social work"

This project attempts to examine systematically the partial and sectoral work carried out thus far in order to develop a theoretical modelling of social work around a central concept, which is the prudential dimension of social workers’ activity. When it is said that social work should be understood as a prudential activity because of the high level of professionalism required of social workers due to the uncertainty of the end goal, the means to be implemented as well as the ambivalence of the tasks, it does not mean it is a personal matter marked by the seal of subjectivity, or that social work is intractable to any formalization inherent to the size (and nature) of human activity. On the contrary, it serves to emphasize the double quality of the activity undertaken: the requirement of accuracy with the situation and the claim to universality of an operated construction. The structuring hypothesis of the suggested theoretical modelling is based on a characterization of the issues of professionalism regarding four areas of interrogation (purposes, practice, context, and situation), whose accompanying properties (uncertainty, weak coding, shade, and lability) that call for caution and force them to act in situations, oblige social workers to partake in a continual professional self-conceptualization of their intervention practices in order to make it socially meaningful and effective.


Marc-Henry Soulet is ordinary Professor of Sociology and chair holder of Social Work and Public Policies at the University of Fribourg. He is the current President of the International Association of French speaking sociologists. In this capacity, he is fully concerned by (and committed to) contemporary transformations of Social Sciences from a pedagogical and scientific point of view. His work has three main directions: 1) analysis of concrete forms of social intervention and that of the contemporary transformations of the welfare state; 2) understanding of management mechanisms regarding discredited identities and that of the forms of action in vulnerable situations; and 3) the study of forms of social treatment of non-integration. He directs the Res socialis collection at Academic Press Fribourg where he has coordinated the publication of numerous works on social problems and social policies. He has also published several articles in the field of social work as well as on epistemological and methodological questions in Social Sciences.

Major publications

SOULET, Marc-Henry. Petit précis de grammaire indigène de l’intervention sociale, Fribourg : Éditions Universitaires, 1996.

SOULET, Marc-Henry. "Penser l’action en contexte d’incertitude : une alternative à la théorisation des pratiques professionnelles ?" in Nouvelles pratiques sociales, vol.18, n°2, 2004.

SOULET, Marc-Henry "De l’insertion sociale à la gestion des immotiles. Le travail social en reconfiguration" in Castel R. & Martin C., Changements et pensée du changement. Échanges avec Robert Castel, Paris : Éditions la Découverte, 2012.

SOULET, Marc-Henry"Le travail social à la croisée des chemins. Les enjeux de professionnalité de l’accompagnement social palliatif" in Lacroix A. (éd.), Quand la philosophie doit s’appliquer, Paris : Éditions Hermann, 2014.

SOULET, Marc-Henry. Les Nouveaux visages du travail social, Fribourg : Academic Press Fribourg, 2016.