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Redefining participation?: On the positioning of children in Swedish welfare benefits appeals
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2011 (English)In: Childhood, ISSN 0907-5682, E-ISSN 1461-7013, Vol. 18, no 2, 227-241 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article deals with the representation of children in the Swedish welfare state, and particularly how children and parents living in economic hardship are positioned in issues regarding financial aid. According to Article 12 in the UNCRC, children have a right to be heard 'in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child'. However, children are not participants in processes concerning welfare benefits, despite the effect that the outcome of these processes may have on children's everyday life. Using welfare benefits appeals as a starting point, the article argues that the impact of the centrality of work discourse in Swedish welfare policy further emphasizes children's position as passive and non-participants in the welfare discourse.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 18, no 2, 227-241 p.
Keyword [en]
benefits, exclusion, needs, participation, welfare state
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-154915DOI: 10.1177/0907568210386252ISI: 000290559900007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-154915DiVA: diva2:422520
Available from: 2011-06-13 Created: 2011-06-13 Last updated: 2013-03-22Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. En erfarenhet rikare?: En kvalitativ studie av barns strategier och barnfattigdomens villkor i välfärdsstaten
Open this publication in new window or tab >>En erfarenhet rikare?: En kvalitativ studie av barns strategier och barnfattigdomens villkor i välfärdsstaten
2013 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In the context of the Swedish welfare state, the issue of child poverty has over the past decade become increasingly prominent within the political agenda. Most research on child poverty has been based on statistics and research on children’s everyday life and their experiences in situations of economic hardship has been in demand in international as well as Swedish research. The aim of this thesis is to explore and analyze children’s experiences of living within economic hardship as part of their identity work. In addition, it highlights how their agency can be understood as a way of dealing with their situation, as well as how child poverty – and the child position in a welfare state setting -  is understood and conceptualized by the society they live in.  The analysis was based on an interview study involving seventeen children between the ages of 6–18 in families living on or below the limit for receiving welfare benefits. The purpose of the interviews was to explore how these children experience economic hardship at home and among same-aged children, focusing their own strategies and agency.

The thesis uses the field of childhood sociology as a theoretical starting point, and the empirical findings are analyzed with an interactionist approach which highlights the meaning of interaction and agency in relation to identity work. The strategies deployed by the children in this study was interpreted in the context of the limited space for agency that the child position entails as well as how their positioning as children, by themselves and others, creates a new understanding of the way poverty is managed by them. This thesis seeks to problematize the issue of child poverty in Sweden by stressing its complexities.  The thesis also emphasizes that it would be a simplification to label these children as merely stigmatized since the status of poverty as a stigma for children can be questioned.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2013. 94 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 85
childhood sociology, child position, poverty, welfare state, financial aid, identity, interaction, agency, strategy, stigma, qualitative interviews, participation
National Category
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-185346 (URN)978-91-554-8550-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-02-01, Universitetshuset sal IX, Uppsala, 10:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2013-01-09 Created: 2012-11-22 Last updated: 2013-03-25Bibliographically approved

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Fernqvist, Stina
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