17 SES 14, Paper Session
By focusing on the history of child and youth welfare and its institutions central aspects of growing up as a member of marginalized social classes can be observed: the living conditions of children and adolescents, their educational opportunities and future prospects differed considerably in respect to their gender and their social and regional origin. The institutions we consider as crucial are residential care homes, the child and youth welfare services, and psychiatric institutions for children. The placement of children and adolescents in these institutions is associated with social exclusion. In the proposed paper we will reconstruct the role of educational institutions in processes of social exclusion: Which ideas and discourses were central in order to legitimate the social exclusion of children and adolescents by subjecting them to a restrictive and quite often violent education in residential care homes? Which experiences did the concerned persons make in these institutions and what were the consequences for their future life?
The authors of the proposed paper have been working together in several research projects on the history of residential child care in Tyrol and Vorarlberg conducted at the University of Innsbruck. The research is based both on written and oral sources: most importantly historical records of the child and youth welfare services including their case files and biographical interviews. We consider our projects grounded in the region but part of the national and international research landscape concerning the history of residential care and child welfare: From 2010 onwards the reconstructions of the history of residential child and youth care have been the subject of major research projects in the German speaking area (Austria, Germany, Switzerland) but also e.g. in other parts of Europe (Netherlands, Ireland etc.) as well as in Canada, Australia etc. The findings of these projects have not only helped to reconstruct the emergence and development of child and youth welfare, particularly the institutionalization of children and adolescents, and the foster care system, but can also contribute to elucidate historical processes and structures of inclusion and exclusion especially of marginalized children, adolescents and their families. It has also been shown, with the example of youth welfare, that there is a simultaneous non-simultaneity in the pedagogical concepts underlying professional action in different educational institutions. While e.g. from the 1970s on, on the one hand, concepts of open youth work and reform pedagogical approaches were implemented in educational institutions, during the same period of time restrictive forms of education in closed institutions continued to exist largely unquestioned. In the field of education and child and youth care approaches focusing on inclusion as well as approaches focusing on differentiation, separation and exclusion were put in practice during the same period of time.
In a first step we will focus on the sources: The research was based both on written and oral sources. In a second step we will present analyses of historical files in order to highlight both the structure and the function of the named institutions (care homes, child welfare services, psychiatric institutions) as well as their role in the social exclusion of children and adolescents. Third, the biographical interviews are used to reconstruct the experiences made during the placement in these institutions and their consequences for the future life of the concerned children and adolescents. Finally we’ll discuss the conditions and effects of the division of the pedagogical sphere in restrictive child and youth welfare one the one hand and open concepts of independent youth work on the other hand.
In the paper we will discuss how the combination of different sources allows reconstructing the role of educational institutions in processes of social exclusion. The research is based both on written and oral sources: (1) historical records of the child and youth welfare services including the child welfare case files found in the county archives of Tyrol and Vorarlberg as well as the archive of the town of Innsbruck and (2) a total of more than 40 biographical interviews (the average length is around two hours). The sources were analyzed using the sociology of knowledge approach to discourse on the one hand and biography analysis on the other hand.
Based on completed as well as ongoing research we aim to answer the above questions concerning the processes of social exclusion including the role of educational institutions as well as the experiences children and adolescents made in these institutions. By combining different sources we want to examine processes of exclusion on different levels: discourses, institutions, experience. We'll argue that by combining these perspectives it is possible to show how exclusion and the reduction of opportunities were argued, but also how the concerned persons’ experience was shaped by the involved institutions and how the consequences for their life course are described.
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