The politics of emotion in a parenting support programme for refugees in Norway

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Tale Steen-JohnsenUniversity of Agder, Norway

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Lisbeth Ljosdal SkrelandUniversity of Agder, Norway

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Enhancing social skills among citizens who are considered at risk is one of the ways in which a welfare state handles marginalised groups (). Universalised programmes represent a common way of strengthening the social capabilities of groups deemed in need of such skills (for example, ). In this article, we show that emotions perform a political role in such programmes. We proffer our arguments on the basis of data from five training sessions in the International Child Development Programme (ICDP) in a mid-sized Norwegian municipality. Mentors who are teaching the ICDP course use emotions to signal the superiority of the ICDP as a parenting ideal in the Norwegian welfare context. Positive other-emotions are used to signal equality and to welcome the refugees to take part in the ICDP. The mentors also control the balance of emotional energy and display sympathy. The emotions displayed by mentors underline the ICDP values as superior. Our analysis draws on the theoretical perspectives of emotions as place claims by Candace Clark (; ) and the cultural politics of emotion by Sarah . With the help of these perspectives, we suggest that the performativity of emotions during ICDP training aligns with broader political processes that imply that refugees are welcomed on the premise that they adapt to parenting practices that are acceptable in the new welfare-state context in which they are situated.

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Tale Steen-JohnsenUniversity of Agder, Norway

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Lisbeth Ljosdal SkrelandUniversity of Agder, Norway

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