The "good family": normality and its vicissitudes in Swiss welfare after 1950

When did schools and welfare institutions intervene and place children in foster care or children’s homes between 1950 and 1980 and when did they not? Which families were considered to be "normal" and "good", which "deficient" and "bad"? Which is the current state of social pedagogical care?

  • Project description (ongoing research project)

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    The end of the post-war boom was characterized by social and cultural upheaval, manifested in the welfare and social policies of the 1970s. Increasing therapy and the psychologizing of everyday life had an impact on dealings with families. State interventions are now ensured by consulting institutes. Which criteria govern regulatory policy? The project reconstructs negotiations on family interpretative patterns in Protestant Bern and Catholic Ticino. The comparison is to enhance knowledge by highlighting the contrasts of socio-political, economic, denominational, and linguistic diversity in school family policy. It will analyze archive documents and tap into the perspectives of the persons concerned by means of biographical video interviews.

  • Background

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    Family is where you grow up but it is also an area of life exposed to normative appraisal. The project investigates socio-interpretative patterns and their impact on regulatory policies that apply to dealings with problematized families. At school, "bourgeois" notions of normality play a decisive role with regard to the categorization of schoolchildren. They shape the manner in which teachers identify "deviating" children who display «behavioral issues».

  • Aim

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    Today’s training of teachers attaches importance to reflexive professionalism. The project encourages teachers to question their own childhood, family, and parent images, thus sensitizing them towards stereotypical and discriminating categorizations. Schools, the authorities and families should share the responsibility of bringing up children without devaluating or idealizing families.

  • Relevance

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    Insights into the historical development and changes to interpretations and categorizations of families contribute to sensitizing the public for various different forms of families, for the hidden normativity of the placement of children in foster care and children’s homes as well as for the ambivalence of aid and welfare. Video documents will contribute to making room for the perspectives of the persons concerned and their memories of the "reach" of schools and the authorities.

  • Original title

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    The "good family". Negotiations of familial normality and its vicissitudes in school, welfare and counselling in Switzerland after 1950