Noruega: “The weight of the past – on self-work whilst living in and leaving youth homes” (El peso del pasado -trabajando sobre la propia historia mientras se vive y se egresa de los hogares) Fransson

noriegabanderaEl siguiente abstract corresponde a la tesis doctoral  de Elisabeth Fransson, donde analiza cómo el pasado se transforma en un tópico de gran importancia  y se le otorga  significado en relación con el vivir en hogares  y el egreso de jóvenes de los mismos. Su disertación se basa en entrevistas con individuos y grupos, observaciones y el estudio de documentos clave. En total, 27 jóvenes fueron convocados de tres hogares del área de Oslo para contribuir con este estudio cualitativo.

Autora: Elisabeth Fransson.

ABSTRACT

Elisabeth Fransson’s doctoral dissertation, The weight of the past – on self-work whilst living in and leaving youth homes, analyses how the past becomes topical and is given meaning in connection with living in and leaving youth homes. This dissertation is based on intervues with individuals and groups, observations, and the study of key documents. In all, 27 young women and men, recruited from three youth homes in the Oslo area, have contributed to this qualitative study.

A key issue in leaving care research has been what happens to youths when they leave child care institutions. Research indicates that things often do not turn out as well for youths who have been in care, as for other youths. Implicit in this research is the assumption that such youths are weighed down by the circumstances of their childhood or adolescence. This dissertation approaches the transition from the institution to the outside world from a different perspective, by asking how the weight of their past affects youths and how it is woven into their self-work whilst living in and leaving youth homes.

Self-work is the main concept in this dissertation. As it is used here, the concept is inspired by and developed from the juxtaposition between to knowledge traditions; poststructuralist theory and social interaction theory. Inspired by Michel Foucault and Erving Goffman, the study focusses on the discourses by which young women and men speak about themselves and their past, and on their negotiations with others about what their past must and can mean. The analysis focusses on the multi-facetted lives in youth homes and youths’ experience with ’the therapeutic eye’ (which is directed both at the otherness and equality of youths, and at the ’youth community’ as a creative force and problem.)

Leaving care receives special attention in this dissertation and is considered in connection with the process of institutionalisation as a whole. Once they have left care, youths can neither return to the life they knew before, nor the life they lived in the institution. Leaving care thus represents a transition and something new. It marks the transition from one context to another, between the past and the present, and has meaning. Through analysis, this dissertation considers various types of self-work during the transition from the institution to the outside world. Here, youths’ quest for normality is key, and their self-work appears to be interconnected with that which they have ’lacked’. This dissertation examines discourses relating to four such lacks: a childhood, an adolescence, personal boundaries, and the ’correct’ class background.

The contribution of the dissertation lies in the development of the self-work concept and the analysis of such self-work. Inspired by Michel Foucault’s discourse concept and Goffman’s focus on social negotiations, this dissertation develops an analytical approach that makes it possible to illuminate how the past is constructed and woven into the self-work of youths in a gendered manner. This approach thus facilitates understanding of leaving child care institutions in new and more culturally sensitive ways.

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