Practising welfare: analysing connections between welfare and homeliness at a children's home in Denmark
Susanne Højlund Pedersen (University of Aarhus)
Paper short abstract:
With this paper I want to focus on the relation between ideologies of welfare and the everyday life within institutions. Based on fieldwork in Danish residential care homes I show how ideas of homeliness are linked to ideas of welfare, and how this influences both the children and the pedagogues.
Paper long abstract:
There are for the time being many common discussions in Europe about the future role of the welfare state, how to finance it and how to resist the pressure from globalisation, demographic changes and migration. Welfare is primary defined in a macro perspective e.g. with theories of ideology in relation to societal changes. But how do ideas of welfare relate to practise? What do ideologies of welfare mean for everyday life? How is welfare practised? Here anthropology can play a role, and this paper is an attempt to point to and discuss how this field of research can be defined. Welfare states like Denmark are characterized by a high number of tax financed institutions placed in society to solve problems which the individual or the family cannot solve. Even though the purpose of institutions as kindergartens, children's homes, schools, hospitals, and homes for old people have very different purposes they all have a common rationale, namely to provide wellbeing and welfare for the citizens. Many of these institutions also have a common ideology of homeliness as a model for the professional work. By tracing ideas of homeliness in Danish institutions in a historical perspective it is shown how the symbolic universe of the Home relates to ideas of welfare. Examples from a fieldwork at a children's home will be used to discuss how ideas of homeliness are brought into practise and what they mean to children and pedagogues. It is the intention to use these examples to discuss welfare as processes of knowledge, and to show how institutional ethnography/anthropology can contribute to an understanding of how welfare becomes a reality in people's lives.
Understanding welfare and well-being in a globalised world