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  • Study location MDH Eskilstuna room A3-007/Digital
Date
  • 2020-05-29 09:15–12:00

The public defense of Zlatana Knezevic’s doctoral thesis in Social work

The public defense of Zlatana Knezevic’s doctoral thesis in Social work will take place at 9.15 on May 29, 2020.

The title of the thesis is “Child (Bio)Welfare and Beyond: Intersecting Injustices in Childhoods and Swedish Child Welfare”

The faculty examiner is Professor Charlotte Williams, RMIT University, Australia and the examining committee consists of Professor Tatek Abebe, NTNU University, Norway; Associate Professor Anna Bredström, Linköping University; Professor Marie Nordfeldt, Karlstad University.

Reserve; Professor Jonas Stier, Mälardalen University

Reserve 2; Associate Professor Hanna Wikström, Göteborg University

The doctoral thesis has serial number 311.

 

Summary

Although located at the heart of the ‘societal’ in political projects and mainstream theories of social change, childhoods are largely depoliticised and less visible in analyses of power in complex intersections between age, ethnicity/race, and gender. Predominately developed for adults, analyses of injustices remain insufficient to grasp power relations in childhoods.

The overall ambition of this dissertation is to inscribe a discourse of intersecting social injustices related to age, ethnicity/race, gender as well as class and health as relevant for childhoods and child welfare, and to develop the bridging of postcolonial, feminist, and critical childhood studies. Delineated to Swedish child welfare and the assessment framework Barns Behov i Centrum (BBIC) as policy and practice, this dissertation aims to explore how Swedish child welfare as a field of knowledge, modes of knowing and knowing subjects constitutes an arena for intersecting social justice claims and responses.

This dissertation is based on four qualitative studies. Two studies focus on child welfare discourses on social problems and violence in BBIC documents, and two studies are based on case reports from a Swedish Social Service agency. The studies combine discourse analysis with thematic and case-study inspired analysis. Study I-II are analyses of children’s knowledge and moral status, and thereby participation and claims for justice. These thoughts are further developed in Study III-IV by using an intersectional lens on child welfare policy and practice as an arena of rights-, recognition-, and social justice claims.

This dissertation discusses child welfare as child biowelfare with justice discourses as largely absent. Biowelfare is informed by professionals’ seeing-believing and scientific predicting-believing focusing on children’s health and development, and a moral economy of care, all constraining the idea of injustices in childhoods as structural and interesting. Biowelfare primarily responds to children as ‘speaking’ biological bodies, rather than voices of justice. In this sense, epistemological injustices are interconnected with social injustices. Justice issues, when mobilised in case reports and policy, come across as rather ‘unjust’; as confined to the family home sphere, or presented as issues for the family of the racialised child but not for the ‘general’ child. In addition to the intersections of age, ethnicity/race and gender, also class and health are central in biowelfarist responses to recognition and protection. Finally, the dissertation points to the need for a moral economy that responds to intersecting injustices such as racial, gender-based and ageist violence in childhoods and violations of children’s integrity.

The current thesis discuss how analytical tools for analyses of power are predominately developed for adults, thus remain underdeveloped to understand injustices in childhoods. The overall ambition of this dissertation is to inscribe a discourse of intersecting social injustices related to age, ethnicity/race, gender as well as class and health as relevant for childhoods and child welfare, and to develop the bridging of postcolonial, feminist, and critical childhood studies. Empirically delineated to Swedish child welfare and the assessment framework Barns Behov i Centrum (BBIC) as policy and practice, this dissertation aims to explore how Swedish child welfare as a field of knowledge, modes of knowing and knowing subjects constitutes an arena for intersecting social justice claims and responses.

The material consists of BBIC primers and selected samples from, in total, 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, thematic and case-study inspired analysis. Two studies focus on child welfare discourses on social problems and violence in BBIC documents, and two studies are based on child welfare case reports.

Study I-II address child welfare by analysing children’s conditions for participation in terms of moral status and status of ‘evidencing’ needs for protection. Study III-IV explore this further in child welfare policy and practice 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 knowing subjects with child welfare as an arena of rights-, recognition-, and social justice claims.

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