10: Protecting children: a social model for the 2020s

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Revisiting their seminal text with Sue White and Kate Morris, Protecting Children: A Social Model, the authors extend and critically examine their core arguments in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and arrive at sobering conclusions regarding what the pandemic revealed about the state, its responses and the deepening of patterns of power, wealth, inequality and exploitation in our society. The social model rebuts the highly individualising narratives of responsibility and causation and locates developments in child protection within a broader economic and societal canvas. The pandemic has reinforced the core arguments behind this viewpoint while revealing limitations in the authors’ original thinking, especially around the potential of the state in the context of financialised capitalism: the relationship between the state and private businesses has become even more intimate as the ideological veneer of competition and the market for contracts has been abandoned and the state is refashioning itself as chief enabler of private capital and private power. The chapter points to the proliferation of suggested alternative approaches and ultimately holds out hope for a better future founded in new and emerging possibilities for dialogue.

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