A selection from Stockholm University publication database
Negotiating master narratives
2022. Stina Michelson. Child & Family Social WorkArticle
Only limited attention has been drawn to children's narrative practice of negotiating cultural ideas about who they are and what they can do. This paper focuses on children living in families where adults have psychosocial problems and analyses how they negotiate different family-related and/or societal master narratives about their identity and agency. Twenty-two children, 6–17 years old, have been interviewed about themselves and their lives. The findings suggest three master narratives as central in children's telling: the story of the child as problem bearer, the story of the child as inheritor of psychosocial problems and the story of the child as an unknowledgeable object. The analysis shows that children negotiate these master narratives by positioning and repositioning themselves and others in, and through, their telling. The core contribution of the study is the notion that children's problem descriptions contain important information about both material and discursive aspects of the problematic situation. Through listening to children's stories, social work practitioners and researchers can deepen their understanding of how the individual child relates to, and negotiates, wider cultural ideas about identity and agency. This knowledge is relevant in the pursuit of matching support with the child's needs and perspective.
Children’s agency when experiencing family-related adversities
2022. Stina Michelson. Qualitative Social WorkArticle
Children’s perspectives on family-related adversities are important to social work practice and theory. Qualitative inquiry into children’s personal narratives can contribute to a deeper understanding of their project of handling difficult relationships and experiences in the family context. The present study explores children’s agency with a specific focus on how they negotiate difficult family-related relationships and experiences in, and through, their personal narratives. The analysis builds on teller-focused interviews with 22 children aged between 6 and 17 who receive support linked to their experiences of family-related adversities. The findings suggest that children negotiate difficult relationships and experiences in terms of closeness and distance. This is shown in their narrative practice of positioning and repositioning themselves and others in, and through, their telling. The findings are theorized in relation to the concepts of power and misrecognition. Finally, the implications for social work practice and research are discussed with an emphasis on how to promote a non-instrumental attitude to children’s perspectives and experiences within the child welfare system. The present study suggests that this pursuit would benefit from a child-centered and narrative understanding of children and their knowledge.