The Fluidity of Texts and Structures: Exploring Institutional Ethnography of the Child Protection System in Dominican Republic

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 11:30 AM
Room: 424
Oral Presentation
Henry PARADA , School of Social Work, Ryerson University, Toronto, ON, Canada
This presentation discusses the challenges experienced in using Institutional Ethnography (IE) in a context other than Global North.  I discuss the challenges in attempting to translate both linguistically and culturally some of the important concepts of IE into Spanish and the culturally different institutional structures of Child Protection System in the Dominican Republic (DR).

Based on a five year international collaborative project (Canada-DR) this presentation discusses some of difficulties in implementing a national study of the child protection system, when institutional structures were not clearly identified, and when institutional texts were not clearly defined outside the legal discourse –Child welfare Act. The team of researchers used different IE means of data collection: 1) Mapped out the “fluid” structures of the different organizations working toward the protection of children and youth; 2) completed textual analysis of the rules and regulations –or lack of; 3) completed six months of direct observations and finally interviews of different actors within the system.  What characterize the child welfare system in different provinces in Canada is a highly regulated and clearly structured system with standards of practices. What characterized the child welfare in the DR is relations of ruling in constant flux where practices were not based on any written forms of protocols of practices, but in personal experience and political influence of those engaged in the protection children and youth.

Since the team of researchers are now engaged in new project both in the Dominican Republic and working toward future projects in other countries of the Caribbean and Central America, the questions of applicability and universality of IE outside the Global North becomes very important.