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Child (Bio)Welfare and Beyond: Intersecting Injustices in Childhoods and Swedish Child Welfare
Mälardalen University, School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Health and Welfare. Division of Social Work.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0205-5326
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
(Bio)välfärd för barn och bortom : Intersektionella orättvisor i barndomar och den sociala barnavården i Sverige (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

The current thesis discusses how tools for analysing power are developed predominately for adults, and thus remain underdeveloped in terms of understanding injustices related to age, ethnicity/race and gender in childhoods. The overall ambition of this dissertation is to inscribe a discourse of intersecting social injustices as relevant for childhoods and child welfare, and by interlinking postcolonial, feminist, and critical childhood studies. The dissertation is set empirically within the policy and practice of Swedish child welfare, here exemplified by the assessment framework Barns Behov i Centrum (BBIC). It aims to explore how Swedish child welfare, as a field of knowledge, modes of knowing and knowing subjects, constitutes an arena for claims and responses to intersecting social justice issues.

The material consists of BBIC primers and selected samples from, a total of 283 case reports from a Swedish social service agency. The case reports address assessments of children (0­­–12 years of age). This dissertation is based on four qualitative studies using discourse analysis, as well as analysis inspired by thematic and case-study methodology. Two studies focus on child welfare discourses in BBIC documents involving social problems and violence, and two studies are based on child welfare case reports.

Studies I­­-II address child welfare policy and practice by analysing the conditions required for children to participate, in terms of children’s moral status and in terms of status of ‘evidencing’ needs for protection. Studies III­­-IV explore this further from the perspective of intersecting and embodied social injustices in childhoods. Together, the studies interconnect child welfare as a field of knowledge, modes of knowing and knowers with child welfare as a moral arena for claims to rights, recognition, and social justice.

The synthesised findings point to child biowelfare, in which justice discourses are largely absent. Biowelfare is informed by a mode of knowing and ‘evidencing’ risks to children’s health and development, which are confined to scientific predicting-believing, seeing-believing by professionals and a moral economy of care, all of which constrain the idea that injustices are structural and intersecting. Biowelfare primarily responds to children as ‘speaking’ biological bodies, rather than as voices of justice. In this sense, injustices of an epistemological nature are interconnected with social injustices. When issues of justice are mobilised in case reports and policy, they come across as rather ‘unjust’, primarily confined to the sphere of the family home of racialised children and not connected to ‘general’ children. In addition to intersections of age, ethnicity/race and gender, class and health are fundamental to recognition and protection in biowelfare. Finally, the dissertation indicates the need for a moral economy which responds to intersecting social injustices such as racial, gender-based and ageist violence in childhoods, and violations of children’s bodily integrity.

Key words: biowelfare, child protection, child welfare, critical childhood studies, critical social work, embodiment, epistemic injustice, epistemology, feminist theory, intersectionality, justice subjectivity, moral economy, moral subjectivity, participation, postcolonial theory, poststructural social work, social justice, violence

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Västerås: Mälardalens högskola , 2020.
Series
Mälardalen University Press Dissertations, ISSN 1651-4238 ; 311
Keywords [en]
biowelfare, child protection, child welfare, critical childhood studies, critical social work, embodiment, epistemic injustice, epistemology, feminist theory, intersectionality, justice subjectivity, moral economy, moral subjectivity, participation, postcolonial theory, poststructural social work, social justice, violence
National Category
Other Social Sciences
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-47378ISBN: 978-91-7485-461-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-47378DiVA, id: diva2:1415497
Public defence
2020-05-29, A3-002/Digital, Mälardalens högskola, Eskilstuna, 09:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2020-04-14 Created: 2020-03-18 Last updated: 2020-05-05Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Amoral, im/moral and dis/loyal: Children's moral status in child welfare
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Amoral, im/moral and dis/loyal: Children's moral status in child welfare
2017 (English)In: Childhood, ISSN 0907-5682, E-ISSN 1461-7013, Vol. 24, no 4, p. 470-484Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article is a discursive examination of children's status as knowledgeable moral agents within the Swedish child welfare system and in the widely used assessment framework BBIC. Departing from Fricker's concept of epistemic injustice, three discursive positions of children's moral status are identified: amoral, im/moral and dis/loyal. The findings show the undoubtedly moral child as largely missing and children's agency as diminished, deviant or rendered ambiguous. Epistemic injustice applies particularly to disadvantaged children with difficult experiences who run the risk of being othered, or positioned as reproducing or accommodating to the very same social problems they may be victimised by.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2017
Keywords
Agency, child welfare, assessment framework, discourse, feminist theory
National Category
Health Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-37151 (URN)10.1177/0907568217711742 (DOI)000412928900004 ()29187776 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-85031416385 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2017-10-26 Created: 2017-10-26 Last updated: 2020-03-18Bibliographically approved
2. A Cry for Care But not Justice: Embodied Vulnerabilities and the Moral Economy of Child Welfare
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A Cry for Care But not Justice: Embodied Vulnerabilities and the Moral Economy of Child Welfare
2020 (English)In: Affilia, ISSN 0886-1099, E-ISSN 1552-3020, Vol. 35, no 2, p. 231-245Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study explores the pivotal role of the body for political recognition and rights claims in child welfare “moral” interventions. I examine how the bodily figures in child welfare assessments, linking these manifestations to the concept of the moral economy of care. A sample of assessment reports from a Swedish municipality, all addressing violations of children’s bodies or integrity, are used as empirical material. I show how the psychosomatically suffering child is being best “heard” as vulnerable. I also argue that such a moral economy of care silences children’s accounts of gendered and racial injustices. Furthermore, racialized moral divides are indicated when assessments of different child bodies are considered. A concluding remark points to a need for a child welfare moral economy of social justice that responds to structural intersecting injustices in childhoods, including to those of a racialized child welfare and its individualized and symptom-oriented services.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2020
Keywords
child welfare; child and family welfare; gender-based violence; race and ethnicity; social justice; vulnerability; intersectionality; embodiment; critical childhood studies; moral economy; feminist theory
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Social Work Gender Studies Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-45429 (URN)10.1177/0886109919878272 (DOI)000489848500001 ()2-s2.0-85074038920 (Scopus ID)
Projects
"BBIC and children exposed to intimate partner violence", funded by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (Grant No. 2013-1113).
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2013-1113
Available from: 2019-10-05 Created: 2019-10-05 Last updated: 2020-04-14Bibliographically approved

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