Drawing on the theoretical work of Wacquant, Bourdieu and Foucault, we interrogate how the COVID-19 pandemic has weaponised child and family social work practices through reinvigorated mechanisms of discipline and surveillance. We explore how social workers are caught in the struggle between enforcement and relational welfare support. We consider how the illusio of social work obscures power dynamics impacting children, young people and families caught in child welfare systems, disproportionately affecting classed and racialised individuals.
Child protection services represent a fruitful point of departure for researchers wishing to explore the complex relation between the state and parenting. One main reason for this stems from the mandate granted to these services by industrialised societies to intervene in the lives of families. In this article, we wish to show how one keyword – that of the child – functions in decisions made by Norwegian child protection services. We will be arguing that the notion of the child writ large occupies a crucial position in the imaginary of the Norwegian welfare state. Its centrality, we wish to show, justifies the strong legitimacy found in Norwegian society at large about state intervention in the lives of families. In so doing, we wish to provide a clearer picture of how the state shapes, in a rather authoritarian way, parenting in Norwegian society.
COVID-19 has shone a light on the many inequalities scarring our landscape. As we look to the future, a consensus is emerging around the need to reject the highly individualistic focus of previous decades and to build back fairer by tackling the ‘causes of the causes’ of so many of our social ills. What might this mean for ‘child protection’, where a focus on individual families and individually generated risks has dominated? We suggest that this model is broken beyond repair and out of kilter with what is needed going forward. We argue that a focus on promoting human flourishing is likely to serve children, young people, their families and society better. In order to support such a project, we argue for the need to change our language, hold broader conversations than hitherto and marry ambition with caution.
The emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 in the context of a COVID-19 pandemic that was already disproportionally impacting on the lives of people from black, Asian and other minority ethnicities in the UK and the US has provoked scrutiny of how racism impacts on all areas of our lives. This article will examine some competing theories of racism, and ask what theoretical tools we need to successfully confront racism in health and social care. In particular, it will scrutinise the different levels at which racism operates – individual, institutional and structural – and ask how these are related. Furthermore, it will argue against theories that see racism as a product of whiteness per se or ‘white supremacy’, insisting instead that racism should be understood as firmly bound to the functioning and perpetuation of capitalism.