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How Social Workers Portray Children’s Perceptions When Constructing Their Identities
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Disability Research. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Department of Child and Youth Studies, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
2013 (English)In: International Journal of Social Science Studies, ISSN 2324-8033; eISSN 2324-8041, Vol. 1, no 2Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Constructions of institutional identities are necessary when assessing children’s needs and making intervention decisions. To be able to make holistic descriptions of children’s identities, social workers have to listen to children’s perceptions of themselves and their surroundings. In this study we explore how social workers construct children’s identities when portraying the children’s perceptions in social investigations conducted according to the BBIC model when concerns have been expressed about the children’s health.  Inspired by a discursive analytical approach, we focused on the language used.

We analysed descriptions of children’s perceptions in 35 written investigations. We found that in terms of words used, the children’s perceptions were given greater attention than those of parents and others (e.g. teachers, doctors). When focusing on the quality of these constructions, the main patterns found were that social workers more frequently submitted non-explanatory rather than explanatory descriptions.

We also found that social workers differ in the way they handle the task of reporting children’s voices. These findings indicate that the use of the BBIC manual needs to be developed to ensure children are not just listened to and their perceptions described, but also that children are constructed as agents of their life. To obtain a holistic view of children’s life-world, there is a need of identity descriptions that include details of how children understand their problems, what they experience as positive and what is acceptable support for them.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 1, no 2
Keyword [en]
Social service investigations, identity construction, children’s perception, non-explanatory descriptions
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-102184DOI: 10.11114/ijsss.v1i2.130OAI: diva2:668971
Available from: 2013-12-02 Created: 2013-12-02 Last updated: 2014-10-30Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Barnperspektiv i barnavårdsutredningar: med barns hälsa och barns upplevelser i fokus
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Barnperspektiv i barnavårdsutredningar: med barns hälsa och barns upplevelser i fokus
2013 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Child perspective in child welfare investigations : children’s health and children’s experiences in focus
Abstract [sv]

Avhandlingens övergripande syfte var att fördjupa kunskapen om hur socialtjänsten synliggör barns fysiska och psykiska hälsa samt barns egna upplevelser i barnavårdsutredningar. Resultaten diskuteras utifrån rättsliga förutsättningar samt teorier om barn som subjekt och sociala aktörer. De fyra delstudierna visar att det finns begränsningar i hur hälsan samt barns upplevelser beskrivs om man vill förstå deras behov av stöd. En anledning till detta kan vara att den rättsliga regleringen inte per automatik ger barn status som subjekt och aktörer. Resultaten tyder på att barnperspektivet i både den rättsliga regleringen och genomförandet av barnavårdsutredningar har stärkts jämfört med vad som visats i tidigare forskning men det behövs en utvecklad analys och argumentation kring barns upplevelser och barns hälsa. En sådan förståelse ger förutsättningar för att barn blir synliggjorda utifrån sina unika förutsättningar vilket säkerställer att socialtjänsten tar hänsyn till deras unika behov.

Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this thesis is to explore how the physical- and psychological health of children – as well as children’s own experiences – are represented in child welfare investigations. The results are discussed with reference to both legal regulations and theories, which identify children as subjects and social actors in their own right. The four studies show that there are limitations in how children’s health generally, along with their experiences more specifically, are described. The consequence is a diminishing of the chances to understand the child’s need for support. One reason for this might be that legal regulations for social welfare investigations do not automatically ascribe to children the status of subjects and social actors. Compared with previous research, results gathered in this thesis indicate that the child’s perspective has been strengthened in both law and in social welfare investigations. All the same, there is still a need for more developed analyses of children’s health as well as children’s experiences. Such an understanding requires that children be seen from their unique positions, ensuring moreover that social services take into account the specific needs of individual children.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2013. 64 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 600Studies from the Swedish Institute for Disability Research, ISSN 1650-1128 ; 56
Child welfare investigations, documentation, children’s physicaland psychological health; children’s experiences, Barnavårdsutredningar, dokumentation, barns fysiska och psykiska hälsa, barns upplevelser
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences Social Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-102187 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-102187 (DOI)978-91-7519-457-8 (print) (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-12-20, I:101, Hus I, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2013-12-02 Created: 2013-12-02 Last updated: 2013-12-05Bibliographically approved

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