"Good parenting” among middle-class families: A narrative positioning analysis of Norwegian child welfare workers’ stories
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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‘Godt foreldreskap’ i middelklassefamilier: En narrativ posisjoneringsanalyse av norske barnevernsarbeideres fortellingerThis article investigates norms of parenting in the context of the Norwegian child welfare service (CWS). Research from both international and Norwegian contexts shows that current parenting ideals are built on middle-class values that are often taken for granted. However, there is limited knowledge about the interaction between the CWS and middle-class families. Through narrative positioning analysis, we explore how child welfare workers (CWWs) construct the identities of two middle-class families in contact with the service and how the CWWs’ ideals about parenting are expressed through these stories. Both families are positioned as well-off, and the CWWs provide classed and gendered descriptions of the parents that coincide with dominant narratives of intensive mothering. As clients, the parents are constructed as active adaptive agents and active expert agents. The CWWs relationally construct themselves as a catalyst for change and as a support. The analysis provides insight into how the middle-class ideal is almost unnoticeably being solidified as a standard, and we metaphorically see the interaction between the parents and the CWS as ‘status maintenance ceremonies’. We argue that a narrative positioning analytical framework can be further developed and used to increase reflection on social work practice and education.