The ‘lived’ and ‘shared learned experiences’ of children and young people across Europe most clearly define and reflect the condition and contours of the European public realm. Largely shaped by the dynamics of institutionalised social solidarity and delivered through universal education and welfare services their integration within and across European society’s pivots on a definitive balance between public and private responsibility (Lorenz, 1998; Lister 2006; Midgely, 2007). For children in care across Europe lived and learned experiences lie at the intersection of this balance simultaneously revealing how states mediate the relationship between the ‘dis-welfares’ (Gough 1979) generated by the global economy and the national ‘particularisms’ which shape the implementation of child care law, policy and practice. Within this context the crises in welfare experienced in recent decades can be regarded as a crisis in social solidarity, with a deleterious impact on the public realm across European settings (Clark, 2004, Offe 2003, Lorenz, 2001). This chapter explores contested terrains and emerging solidarities within child care law, policy and practice across Europe
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