Welfare and the factors shaping it and related to it constitute a multifaceted and complex field of social research. The theoretical examination of the concept of welfare and the analysis of how welfare is manifested at different stages in life form the basis for welfare research in the department. The research is focused on the social dimension of welfare. Welfare is examined by considering the various human dimensions of the concept, and the significance of a robust living environment in its formation.

Welfare research is focused on the different aspects of subjective welfare and, in a resource-oriented manner, on the income of and services for families. The welfare of both the entire population and various special groups (such as the aged and people with mental disorders or other disabilities), and the inequality of the distribution of welfare inside these populations, are studied in the department. Work and the organisation of work are also studied from the perspective of welfare. The study of subjective welfare also entails examinations of the maintenance of selfhood, social identity and community relations.

Research in welfare policy and systems analyses the history, change factors and future options of these subjects. The department's research themes in this area include the capacities for functioning and renewal of the welfare state and civil society; the structural mechanisms of poverty, exclusion and inequality and social policy interventions targeted at these phenomena, the interaction between different political segments and levels, the structures and operation of organisations, the social economy, and the demographic revolution. The department also studies the mechanisms between education, innovation systems and the welfare state. 

Research in mechanisms of exclusion and support related to welfare studies processes that promote either exclusion or inclusion. This field of research also deals with microsocial processes of vulnerability, insecurity and exclusion, along with the nature of and preconditions for support work targeted at these processes.

Welfare research is conducted in a mutually complementary and supportive manner in all academic subjects taught in the department. The department works in close cooperation with Finnish and international departments, centres and networks that carry out research in this field.

Welfare research is connected to the emerging fields of research of Welfare Ruptures: Recognising Uncertainties, Finding Solutions and Effectiveness in Healthcare and Social Services outlined in the university's research strategy.