Adolescents in care: life trajectories

The project will scrutinize the life trajectories of teens placed in foster families or children’s homes in the cantons of Fribourg, Neuchâtel, Lucerne, and Basel-City between 1950 and 1985 and investigate the limitations and possibilities experienced by them on their path to adulthood.

  • Project description (ongoing research project)

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    In the field of tension between welfare and coercion, the project will investigate the lives of those teens placed in institutions and compare them to peers who were not institutionalized. We wish to identify those resources suitable for ensuring education and social participation. The examination period, 1950 to 1985, is of particular interest, given the change that took place in youth welfare and vocational training during the time when the foundation was laid for the structures characterizing the present situation.

    Interviews with contemporary witnesses play an important role for the investigation. Moreover, a bilingual workshop, a meeting, and an international colloquium have been planned to allow for exchange with the persons concerned.

  • Background

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    Interviews with persons placed in institutions as teens demonstrated to which degree they suffered from inadequate education and training as well as a lack of professional and societal perspectives. This investigation is to describe superordinate mechanisms as well as the framework conditions applying to the social and professional integration of teens and thus contribute to preventing discrimination and marginalization in the future.

  • Aim

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    The research project will apply a comparative approach to determine the limitations experienced by the institutionalized teens as well as the opportunities and possibilities they were granted – or not. The persons concerned will be able to understand why their life trajectories developed as they did as well as learning to comprehend the significance of the institutional factors. For the organizations and institutional agencies today, it will become clear which decisions and actions determine individual lives.

  • Relevance

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    The period investigated, i.e. 1950 to 1985, is of significance for the modern welfare state. This is when the foundation was laid and the strategic course of action was chosen for youth policy. Historical perspectives heighten the perception of the present by identifying continuities and referring to similar problem areas today. Knowledge of the past will help us to understand the present and design it correspondingly.

  • Original title

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    Adolescent in care and the acquisition of human and social capital: a comparative study of opportunities and achievements in four Swiss cantons (1950-1985)