How Social Workers Portray Children’s Perceptions When Constructing Their Identities

Elin Hultman, Ann-Christin Cederborg


Constructions of institutional identities are necessary when assessing children’s needs and making intervention decisions. To be able to make holistic descriptions of children’s identities, social workers have to listen to children’s perceptions of themselves and their surroundings. In this study we explore how social workers construct children’s identities when portraying the children’s perceptions in social investigations conducted according to the BBIC model when concerns have been expressed about the children’s health.  Inspired by a discursive analytical approach, we focused on the language used.

We analysed descriptions of children’s perceptions in 35 written investigations. We found that in terms of words used, the children’s perceptions were given greater attention than those of parents and others (e.g. teachers, doctors). When focusing on the quality of these constructions, the main patterns found were that social workers more frequently submitted non-explanatory rather than explanatory descriptions.

We also found that social workers differ in the way they handle the task of reporting children’s voices. These findings indicate that the use of the BBIC manual needs to be developed to ensure children are not just listened to and their perceptions described, but also that children are constructed as agents of their life. To obtain a holistic view of children’s life-world, there is a need of identity descriptions that include details of how children understand their problems, what they experience as positive and what is acceptable support for them.

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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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