Understanding 'the Others' as Parents: Majority-Minority Relations when Social Workers in the Child Welfare Services meet Minority Parents in Norway
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The topic of this master's thesis is majority-minority relations between social workers in the child welfare services and minority parents. The thesis explores the following research questions: In what respect are minority-majority relations expressed when social workers in the Norwegian child welfare service meet minority parents and different views on childrearing? For the purpose of exploring the research question, I have interviewed social workers in the child welfare. The interviews conducted were semi-structural. Combined with literature and theoretical concepts, these interviews form the basis of my analysis and discussion. The analysis explores in what ways the interviewed social workers understand and assess childrearing practices among minorities, as well as how they engage with these childrearing practices. The participants in the study were concerned with focusing on similarities between parents despite their cultural background and to not judge parents based on their cultural origin. However, they explained some differences. Typically, differences in childrearing and understandings of the best interest of the child were understood and assessed based on values in the majority society concerning children and childhood. For instance, what was described as some minority parents too excessive control over teenage daughters were to a certain extent understood and assessed based on dominant discourses about gender equality and autonomy in the majority society. These cases were explained as especially difficult, as they challenged the social workers' values. Many of the participants were concerned with minority parents' adjustment to the Norwegian society, as they understood it being important for children's well-being and peer relations in Norway. Parents that are adjusting to 'Norwegian' practices are to some extent understood as good parents. However, the social workers were not just concerned with parents' adjustment; several were also concerned with finding a balance between cultural practices. The balance concerned what to accept, where to draw a boundary and to find the best interest of the child.