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Children’s participation in decision-making: Perspectives from Social Workers in Gothenburg

By Fred Moonga


This study sought to explore the participation of children in decision-making from the point of view of social work practitioners in Gothenburg - Sweden. It drew from article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and tries to situate participation of children within the context of social policy. The systems, socialization, reflective reproduction and structural perspectives as well as the competent-incompetent discourses are incorporated as epistemological strands of analysis. The study used both qualitative and quantitative research methods to collect and analyse both primary and secondary data. Self-administered questionnaires to the social work practitioners and young people respectively as well as semi-structured interviews to parents and young people were used to collect primary data. Secondary data was collected by way of reviewing documents from previous studies. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) was used for quantitative data while meaning condensation and meaning categorisation were used for qualitative data analysis. Practitioners agreed almost unanimously that children need to be listened to, competency and lack of sex favouritism on children regarding participation. However, they were quiet divided as to the appropriate age of starting to participate as well as on who should determine the best interest of the child. I argue herein that there is a neat connection between the social policy system and the participation or non-participation of children in decision-making. In spite of the small sample, the author concludes that Sweden has gone strides ahead in implementing the UNCRC going by the responses from practitioners, institutions and activities set up to implement it. However, it still remains progressively challenging to evaluate whether or not these institutions are not just a matter of good intent

Topics: Child, Participation, decision-making, social policy
Year: 2007
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