Enhancing Children's Citizenship through Particpation: An analysis of professionals, policies and practices
Social Policy The Open University Leeds, UK
Enhancing Children's Citizenship through Particpation: An analysis of professionals, policies and practices.
The paper contributes to debates about the advancement of children's rights within contemporary European social welfare contexts. It seeks to discover some of the organisational dynamics involved in the participation of children and young people in social welfare decision making. It examines the ways individual professionals negotiate, communicate and manage their own emotions in this difficult and challenging arena of work with children. Furthermore it also explores the institutional responses to children's participation. Finally it evaluates whether participation has become part of the new public management of welfare within Europe.
As children and young people become more skilled at presentation of self in formal and informal decision making arenas, professionals are having to come to terms with the dilemmas and anxieties this raises for them. This shift in focus with the professional at the centre allows further exploration of the complex professional and organisational dynamics at play in this arena of social welfare work with children.
This analysis of the adult/professional roles in participation is necessary and integral to children's participation being further developed in future. The wider context is of advancement of children's rights within contemporary European social welfare contexts.
The paper draws primarily upon research data from the UK but also includes preliminary data from the authors study in Norway (2009-2011). Norway is generally acknowledged as one of the leading countries in developments on children's rights with the establishment of the first children's rights commissioner. As a result it has been viewed as a beacon of children's citizenship. Many countries in Europe as well as internationally have looked towards Norway when developing their own services for children. This study will examine the way professionals facilitate and negotiate participation in Norway . It will also aim to identify Norwegian principles and practices that may be transferred to children's participation policy and practice within the UK.