9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN19 Sociology of Professions

2009-09-05 13:30:00 2009-09-05 15:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 13:30 - 15:00 The SocioCultural Formation of Professional Work Building I, Auditório 2

The professional divide in the societal reponse to child maltreatment - observations from Germany

Internationally, maltreatment of small children is increasingly viewed as a severe challenge to social professionalism. Both the media reporting on violence at home and a growing sensibility to social deprivation during early childhood have brought (alleged) deficiencies of professional action on the public agenda. Concern is widespread about imperfections of existing patterns of intervention, regarding e.g. the use of organisational resources or resistance to interprofessional collaboration. However, this debate has shortcomings concerning the way it adresses professional divides in the societal response to child maltreatment. Firstly, there is little awareness of problems related to the professions? intrusion in the families? life world. This intrusion is subject to a bargaining between parents and professions, with the latter holding particular notions of intimacy boundary violations. Secondly, multi-party interventions (whether co-ordinated or not) are widespread, with the simultaneous involvement of different professions including physicians, midwives, family advisers or judges, each following a distinctive approach. Depending on who gets involved in which way, particular trajectories of professional interference emerge which entail case-specific (chains of) reactions to the problems at issue. Drawing on a broad review of the international literature and referring to the institutional setting in Germany, the paper presents a theoretical framework laying the grounds for an in-depth enquiry scheduled for the near future. It argues that the sociology of professions should pay greater attention to both the entanglement of various professional identities during social interventions and the way of how involved professions conceptualize their role vis-à-vis the private sphere of their clients.