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Promoting constructive relations between children in foster care and welfare officials
Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work, Örebro University, Sweden. (Sovil)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5683-179X
Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work, Örebro University, Sweden. (Sovil)
Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work, Örebro University, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6465-0545
2015 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The relationship between children in foster care and ‘their’ welfare official has recently been accentuated on political level in Sweden. In this paper we will discuss how Honneths theory of recognition can be applied on this relation – which is a very multifaceted one – not least because the role of the official is multi-dimensional. Besides ensuring official policy, law and regulation (the authority role) he/she shall represent the child vis-à-vis other actors’ and institutions involved (the advocacy role), and be a stable and trustful adult for the child to attach to socially/emotionally (the attachment role). The latter is now emphasized in Swedish law.

     Recently, in the framework of an evaluation we interviewed children in foster care. When asked about how they experience “their” official most of them show a quite negative or indifferent attitude referring first and foremost to the authority role, i.e. someone controlling and administering their foster-home placement. However, those most positive of “their” official highlights the attachment dimension, indicated by a deeper and more developed relation based on mutual trust. And, such a relation seems desired by most interviewed children. By Honnet’s theory of recognition we may reach deeper insights about how and under what circumstances a professional role that promotes such relations can be developed without undermining the authority role of the welfare official. The theory elucidates three types of recognition-relations needed for an individual to develop a positive identity: through primary relations of mutual emotional attachment self-confidence of importance for being able to articulate personal needs is developed. Through legal relations the individual is recognized as an adequate partner in interaction, i.e. as a person entitled to the same legal status and treatment as all other persons (universal dimension). This infuses self-respect. In complement to this – to care and legal recognition – the individual needs to be recognized for unique capacities and achievements via belonging to a community of shared values. The paper discusses if, how and what the welfare official can offer here on the basis of his/hers position in the welfare bureaucracy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015.
National Category
Sociology Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-44474OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-44474DiVA: diva2:807987
Conference
European Conference for Social Work Research (ECSWR), Ljubljana, Slovenien, 22-24 April, 2015.
Available from: 2015-04-27 Created: 2015-04-27 Last updated: 2016-12-12Bibliographically approved

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