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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences eTheses
Title: An Ethnographic Exploration of Relationships in Residential Child Care
Author(s): Fowler, Nadine Helen
Supervisor(s): Emond, Ruth
McIntosh, Ian
Keywords: Relationships
Residential Care
Social Work
Issue Date: Oct-2018
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: The significance of relationships in residential child care in Scotland has grown in policy, practice and academic writing. Introduction of The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and current narratives around ‘love’ in residential settings have demonstrated a shift in mainstream ways of viewing daily life in care settings. Examining relationships in residential care is not a new endeavour: academics have written extensively about the need for residential practice to be relational. These relationships have been contextualised by sociologists as enacted practices and felt connections, rather than biological ties of traditional kinship. This thesis explores the processes through which relationships are enacted and understood in residential care. Data was obtained through an ethnographic study conducted across three residential houses in Scotland. The fieldwork lasted a total of 10 months from May 2016 to February 2017 and involved 49 staff members and 17 young people. The majority of data was derived from participant observation, totalling 104 days of fieldnotes. These were supplemented with semi-structured interviews in all three houses, involving 22 staff members and 5 young people. Two main themes were identified in the data. Firstly, the setting of each residential house as both a workplace and a homeplace, governed by systemic processes which could interrupt people’s enactment of relationships or facilitate bonding opportunities, permeated everyday residential life. Secondly, both staff members and young people behaved with some ambivalence towards relationships. People’s closeness with others could be met with suspicion, resulting in a dichotomous process where participants would both attempt to bond with and distance themselves from others. This thesis concludes that relationships for staff members and young people are enacted in small, every day moments and are a significant factor in residential care.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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