From generation to generation: Family narratives within the context of welfare and coercion


This project will explore the impact of administrative care on the next generation, i.e. how the families deal with the traumas experienced and which conclusions can be drawn for the further development of child protection as well as current and future child-raising assistance.

Project description (ongoing research project)

Our project investigates the aftereffects of trauma on the descendants of persons subjected to administrative detention, for instance disconnection disorders, heteronomy, powerlessness, violence, abuse, coldness, stigmatization, and social precariousness. We are interested in the coping strategies of the families, institutions, and society. To this effect, we will interview second-generation relatives on their biographies. The insights will be combined with known facts of the directly impacted first generation. To round this off, we would like to learn, from a comparison group, i.e. persons who mainly grew up in children’s homes after 1981, how our insights could be applied to current and future practice.


Biography and trauma research have demonstrated that experiences such as war, flight, and violence not only impact the directly concerned throughout their lives but also future generations. Specific intergenerational ways of dealing with such trauma can be made out within the family as well as socially. However, hardly any scientific findings as to inter-generational correlations in the wake of coercive measures are available.


This project will focus on the three following questions:

  1. In which manner did the consequences of coercive measures manifest themselves for the next generation?
  2. Which transgenerational coping strategies and resources can be made out?
  3. How can the results be put to use today and in the future?

The insights will be of relevance for the families concerned as well as for the further development of current foster care placement processes.


Our project will pursue a retrospective and a rehabilitative as well as a prospective and a preventive focus. We will contribute to national and international scientific discourse. It is of particular importance to make the biographies of the families concerned heard. Moreover, we will gain insight on the long-term effect of court-ordered foster care, which can be used to develop child protection and child-raising assistance further.

Original title

Intersectional transmission processes between persons affected by enforced fostering and their offsprings: A biographical-reconstructive study of individual coping strategies and societal conditions

Project leader

Dr. phil. Andrea Abraham, Berner Fachhochschule Soziale Arbeit, Bern



Further information on this content


Dr. phil. Andrea Abraham Berner Fachhochschule Soziale Arbeit Hallerstrasse 10 3012 Bern 031 848 46 17