Is the choir in Tune? A thesis on interdisciplinary collaboration between children, teachers and child welfare workers from the experiences and perspectives of children
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This thesis is conducted in Norway. After the ratification and embedding of the UNCRC in Norwegian law it is recognised that efforts are being made to ensure children’s rights. However, because there has been an increase of children receiving measures by the Norwegian child welfare organisation, other public sectors, like the school, are progressively being invited to participate in collaborative efforts with the child welfare organisation and the child in question. This development, including children’s increased rights, entails that collaborative practises are possibly in need of alteration to better achieve its purpose, which is to ensure the child’s wellbeing. This study has investigated children’s experiences and perspectives with interdisciplinary collaboration between teachers, child welfare workers and themselves. Literature from child welfare, education and sociology has been used to study the research topic. Research regarding professionals’ social mandate, their professional identity and the issue of symbolic capital (Bourdieu) have been especially helpful. The thesis has used a qualitative methodology and the method of semi-structured interview. Findings from this project indicate that professionals may have diverse perspectives and assumptions regarding children and the same goes for children towards the adults. As a result, the field of collaboration is strongly influenced by ambiguities and power struggle. When these are not solved they might lead to ineffective collaborative structures. Certain concepts have stronger influence on how the collaborative efforts evolve and the direction it takes towards positive of negative outcomes. For instance, whose perspective is used regarding “the best interest of the child”, are one of these. A thought-proving finding is that instead of combining expertise, it seems that professionals and children sometimes pull the collaboration in diverse directions. Hence the thesis title “Is the choir in tune?” which is based on the image that the members of the collaboration all want to “sing” but do not find a unified tune. This can lead the “song” of finding good measures for the child, into a “song” of errors. One of the reasons for this can be tied to children’s social status and position and whether, and how, collaborative members accept children as valuable partners of the collaboration and take them seriously. There seems to be a need for social science to study how public welfare services and education for children may become more unified and decrease the gap between professionals and children.