Lämpliga eller olämpliga hem? : Fosterbarnsvård och fosterhemskontroll under 1900-talet
Sammanfattning: Bergman, Ann-Sofie (2011) Suitable or unsuitable homes? Foster family care and supervision of foster homes during the 20th centuryThis thesis is about foster family care in Sweden during the 20th century. In the beginning of the century many children lived in foster homes. Because of the law regulating state child care passed in 1926, children’s welfare boards were established in the municipalities. These boards were responsible for placing children with foster parents and for supervising foster homes. It was required of foster parents and foster homes to be suitable in order to be allowed to take care of a foster child. What was then meant by the term suitability? This was not clearly expressed; in the assessment of suitability there was room for discretion. The overall aim of this study is to describe and analyse dominant conceptions of what has been characterized as suitable foster homes and foster parents, through the examination of the child welfare practice. The study also deals with power as an essential aspect of how suitability is determined, as well as with the supervision of foster homes. Via a long-term analysis of foster care it is possible to describe patterns and trends, continuity and change over time. The study focused mainly on the children’s welfare board in the municipality of Växjö, and was also put into a broader context of foster care inspections in the county of Kronoberg and the debate on foster care in Swedish journals. Key concepts for this analysis have been discourse, professionalization, power relations, the clinical gaze, class, gender, normality and control.The discourse around the suitability of foster homes and foster parents changed during the 20th century. The greatest change took place in the early 1970s, when foster care began to be described in terms of treatment. This shift can mainly be understood in the context of: changes in what problems led to placement; deinstitutionalization; professionalization; along with the influences of psychology and psychiatry on social work. Focus shifted over time from material needs and physical health to social and mental health. However, the discourse also includes elements of continuity. The focus on foster mothers in the inspectors’ examinations and assessments has been persistent and strong, despite great social changes. The norm that foster children should grow up in a nuclear family has prevailed, and it grew even stronger over time. Sometimes conflicts arose between various actors in the foster care practice, due to differing opinions on what was suitable or unsuitable. When deciding upon this issue there could be negotiations or disputes between the involved children, their parents, foster parents and inspectors. Problems in the foster homes which captured the attention of the board, could lead to increased control or to the children’s relocation. Throughout the previous century there has been criticism regarding insufficient control. The idea that supervision should not only serve as control, but also as support has also been advanced. The focus on the inspector’s supporting role was strengthened over time during the century.
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