(Social) Parents in the Healthcare System: Helped or Trapped?

Monday, 16 July 2018
Nicole WITTE, University of Goettingen - Center of Methods in Social Sciences, Germany
When children are born, this leads to big changes in the life of the adults who are responsible for them. This goes far beyond intrafamilial changes, for it inevitably involves contact with various organizations within the healthcare and education systems. This applies to an even greater degree to (social) parents of children with a so-called developmental delay, whether physical, mental or psycho-social.

In a research project on children with motor development delay, my colleagues and myself are studying the course and the meaning, or interpretation, of interactions between the (social) parents and the professional actors in such organizations in Germany. In addition to considering the 'effects' of these interactions on and for the children, we are mainly interested in reconstructing the interactions against the background of the biographical experiences of the individuals involved. At least for the professional actors, experiences with and in the organization are an immanent part of their biographical experiences and are constituted daily.

If, for instance, we analyse a consultation between a mother and a nursery school teacher, we are not only interested in whether the mother accepts the teacher’s advice and puts it into practice in her handling of the child, and what effect this has on the child’s development. Rather, our main focus is on reconstructing the course of the interaction, in order to reveal how the specific organization is (re)produced and structured by, or structures, the social actions that take place within it.

In a contrastive comparison of biographical case studies and video analyses of interactions between (social) parents and the professional actors, we will be able to show not only how the organization (the nursery school) structures the interaction in different ways, but also how the organization is structured by the actions of the individuals involved.