The transition to adulthood from care as a struggle for recognition

Paulsen, Veronika and Thomas, Nigel orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5310-9144 (2017) The transition to adulthood from care as a struggle for recognition. Child and Family Social Work . ISSN 1356-7500

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In this article we focus on young people transitioning to adulthood from child welfare services, and how the concept of recognition can be useful for understanding the complexity of young people’s needs in this transition. We draw upon Honneth’s (1996) theory of intersubjective recognition as a way of understanding young people’s experiences of their contact with child welfare services.

We ask how recognition theory can help us to understand young people’s experiences and needs in their transition to adulthood from child welfare services, and what are the practical implications. We focus on relationships, participation and social support as the three components highlighted by the young people who participated in interviews. Previous research also indicates that young people leaving care often face challenges related to creating and maintaining good relationships (Marion et al., 2017; Rutman & Hubberstey, 2016), participating effectively in decisions (Authors reference 1) and receiving good quality social support (Barry, 2010; Höjer & Sjöblom, 2010; Authors reference 2; Authors reference 3; Thomas, 2005). We argue that Honneth’s theory is potentially useful, in that these three elements appear to depend on, and imply, the kinds of recognition that he identifies. This theoretical framework provides us with an analytical tool that enables us to understand the young people’s negative stories as experiences of misrecognition, and to show the complexity of the dynamics that shape recognition and misrecognition for this group (Warming, 2015).

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