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‘E kuchú ta korta mi’ versus ‘I cut myself with a knife’: Cultural Assumptions in Child Protection Intervention Processes

Author:

Tessa Verhallen

Utrecht University
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Abstract

I conducted a longitudinal ethnographic PhD study between June 2009 and June 2012 to examine how intervention practices took place in 30 Dutch and Dutch-Curaçaoan single-mother families with multiple problems, because interventions were often regarded as ineffective in 'multi-problem families'. Drawing on this study, this article aims to demonstrate that cultural assumptions, along lines of, among other things, gender, ethnicity and socio-economic class, play a major role in family care and child protection intervention processes in the Netherlands.
I will provide different examples of both social work text and talk to illustrate underlying categorical presumptions. It will be seen how the culturally embedded social policy category ‘multi-problem family’ plays a role in Dutch social work policy and practice. I will then demonstrate how important cultural notions are (made) in social work encounters between the mothers and the institutional representatives in question through giving an insight into how cultural beliefs are mobilized in encounters. I argue that one should be more aware of how (essentialist) cultural notions are mobilized in child welfare and protection intervention processes in order to bridge the gap between the life worlds of the mothers and the professionals, as disconnection appears to lie at the core of why family care and child protection intervention practices are often flawed.

DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/ulr.344
How to Cite: Verhallen, T., (2016). ‘E kuchú ta korta mi’ versus ‘I cut myself with a knife’: Cultural Assumptions in Child Protection Intervention Processes. Utrecht Law Review. 12(2), pp.63–80. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/ulr.344
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Published on 02 Jul 2016.
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