Working Vulnerability. Agency of Caring Children and Children's Rights
Wihstutz, Anne , Germany
Philosophical Faculty III Education Martin-Luther-University Halle (Saale) Germany, http://www.philfak3.uni-halle.de/
Interdependent relationships between children and parents, siblings and other kin have not been a central issue in the discourse of modern childhood in Europe. The focus was set on the individual child as dependent on his or her parents. With the new paradigm in childhood studies and the view on children as social actors, children´s agency and their active participation in social relationships have been subject to a growing number of empirical studies. The situation of children involved in regular and substantive care of their (chronically) ill or disabled parent/s has been of special interest to UK scholars of childhood. Young Carers have since then been included in the Children Act 1989, in the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act and in the Carers and Disabled Children Act. Social and Political Intervention is based on the concept of children´s vulnerability. Young carers are considered "children in need" and thererfore especially vulnerable.
Based on a recently released empirical study on children and adolescents in care for their ill or disabled parents in Germany (Metzing 2007) I discuss children´s experience of interdependence in view of the discourse of a "good childhood". The paper focusses on structural (e.g. legal) contraints to children´s agency and on strategies children develop against the background of children´s rights discourse and the notion of "vulnerability of children". Special emphasis is put on social-networkings and kin- and family understandings by children. Finally I ask in how far social-political programmes support caring children´s agency and participation as social citizen.