Making Family with Organisations / Networks – Parallel Session 2 – Thursday, September 23rd – 13:45

Disempowerment of Families by Collaboration? Intended and unintended effects of collaboration between early education and early interventionSeitz/Hamacher (Bozen/IT & Paderborn/GER)

Doing Family in, through and with Risk-Assessment in early Support Networks. – Dahmen/Kelle/Edler/Hontschik (Bielefeld/GER)

Managing undesired Behavior and assessing Family Constellations: the role of teachers and schools in child placements in Switzerland, 1950 to 1980 – Bollag/Bühler/Deluigi/Ducommun (Bern/SUI)


Disempowerment of Families by Collaboration? Intended and unintended effects of collaboration between early education and early intervention – Seitz, Simone / Hamacher, Catalina (Paderborn/GER)

Partnerships between Early Day Care Centres and families are considered as positively effective and in the interest of children (critically: Betz 2015; Knoll 2018) – also networking between Early Education and Early Intervention is mainly seen as supportive for children and their families (Kron & Papke 2006). This appears in a different light with in the current shift in the public and political discourse which can be summarised as: from the idea of the normal childhood to the idea of the perfect childhood (ct. Nadesan, 2010). Thus, the question arises which role play family-related ascriptions of normality and difference within the networking (Attia et al. 2015).

Coming from here we take up one of the crucial findings of a completed mixed methods study on the collaboration of day care and early intervention in North Rheine Westfalia (2017-2019). Using a reconstructive approach and a micro analytic perspective (Bohnsack 2017) in the qualitative part of the study we can show that the task of collaboration provides a specific ambivalence by aiming to support the participation of children and families within a policy framework that is characterised by prevention (Hamacher & Seitz 2020). This leads to inconsistencies and frictions in the collaboration of different professions as well as in the partnership of each with the families which can also be found in the German school system (critically Labhart 2019; Kunze et al. 2019): focussing children at risk and preventing failure in school. Based on this, it is almost impossible for the involved actors to reflect the case constitution in a critical way (Hamacher 2020).

Our study shows that families recede into the background of the collaboration, depending on ascriptions of normality and the families’ willingness to adapt to the dominant discourse which leads to different variations of othering within the collaboration (Riegel 2016) and results in a request of self subjectivations as different and problematic for families (Geib et al. 2020). Depending on the socio economic status of families as well as their habitual patterns and correspondence to the ‘normal image’ of a family (Benbenishty & Chen 2003) it is more likely for children to become a case of collaboration and for their families to be adressed as problematic and different. In conclusion our findings show that by connecting Day Care Centres and Early Intervention Centres inequalities are rather reinforced than reduced (Hamacher & Seitz 2020). These findings will be discussed by using empirical material of the qualitative part of the study.


Attia, I., Köbsell, S. & Prasad, N. (eds.) (2015). Dominanzkultur reloaded. Bielefeld: transcript.

Betz, T. (2015). Das Ideal der Bildungs-und Erziehungspartnerschaft. Kritische Fragen an eine verstärkte Zusammenarbeit zwischen Kindertageseinrichtungen, Grundschulen und Familien. Bertelsmann: Gütersloh.

Bohnsack, R. (2017). Praxeological sociology of knowledge. Opladen & Toronto: Barbara Budrich.

Benbenishty, R. & Chen, W. (2003). Decision making by the child protection team of medical center. Health & social work 28 (4), p. 284-292.

Geib, F., Hamacher, C., Hartmann, M., Kerle, A., Kubandt, M. & Seitz, S. (2020). Zwischen machtvollen Adressierungen und Praktiken des Ein-und Ausschlusses. Empirische Perspektiven auf die (Zusammen-)Arbeit mit Familien. In M. Schulz, S. Bischoff-Papst & P. Cloos (eds.), Familie im Kontext pädagogischer Institutionen. Theoretische Perspektiven und empirische Zugänge. Weinheim u.a.: Beltz Juventa (in print).

Hamacher, C. (2020). Vom Kind zum Fall. Eine rekonstruktive Studie zu Fallkonstitutionen in der Zusammenarbeit zwischen Kindertageseinrichtung und Frühförderung. Bad Heilbrunn: Klinkhardt.

Hamacher, C. & Seitz, S. (2020). „Was könnte denn das Kind haben?“ Dynamiken der Kooperation von Kindertagesbetreuung und Frühförderung im Kontext inklusionsbezogener Professionalisierung. Qualifizierung für Inklusion 2 (3), (in print).

Knoll, M. (2018). Erziehungs-und Bildungspartnerschaft. In Krönig, F. K. (ed.), Kritisches Glossar Kindheitspädagogik. Weinheim und Basel, p. 93-100.

Kron, M. & Papke, B. (2006). Frühe Erziehung, Bildung und Betreuung von Kindern mit Behinderung. Eine Untersuchung integrativer und heilpädagogischer Betreuungsformen in Kindergärten und Kindertagesstätten. Bad Heilbrunn: Klinkhardt.

Kunze, K., Bartmann, S. & Silkenbeumer, M. (2019). Teamgespräche als Adressierungsgeschehen. Methodologische und methodische Überlegungen zur Rekonstruktion pädagogischer Zuständigkeitsformationen. In Cloos, P., Fabel-Lamla, M., Kunze, K. & Lochner, B. (eds.), Pädagogische Teamgespräche. Methodische und theoretische Perspektiven eines neuen Forschungsfeldes. Weinheim: Beltz Juventa, p. 135-155.

Labhart, D. (2019). Interdisziplinäre Teams in inklusiven Schulen. Eine ethnografische Studie zu Fallbesprechungen in multiprofessionellen Gruppen. Bielefeld: transcript.

Nadesan, M. H. (2010). Governing childhood into the 21st century: Biopolitical technologies of childhood management and education. New York, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Riegel, C. (2016). Bildung – Intersektionalität – Othering. Pädagogisches Handeln in widersprüchlichen Verhältnissen. Bielefeld: transcript.

Doing Family in, through and with Risk-Assessment in early Support Networks. – Dahmen, Stephan / Kelle, Helga / Edler, Amanda / Hontschik, Anna (Bielefeld/GER)

The last decade has witnessed a range of welfare practices that can adequately described as “early prevention and intervention” in German Child Protection policies. The introduction of new legal regulations (c.f. the German federal child protection act (BkischG 2012), did not only introduce mandatory procedural standards for dealing with child protection cases on the level of youth welfare offices and of family courts, it also encouraged the nationwide introduction of “early, coordinated, and multiprofessional” (BKischG §1(4)) services for parents in the first three years of their children’s lives. Echoing international developments, these policies are characterized by a “turn to parenting” (Ostner, Betz & Honig, 2017), an explicit focus on “early” (the age-group 0-3) identification of “risks for the development of children” (BkischG §1 (3)). They constitute a gradual shift of the historically evolved relation between public support, intervention and control and the private familial sphere of the German child protection regime. Based on preliminary findings from a research project funded by the DFG (“risk-assessment in child protection and early intervention” 2021-2023), our contribution explores early intervention and support networks. First, we show that early intervention networks and the corresponding risk-assessment practices contribute to the extension of networks of trans-organisational “observation spaces” (Kelle/Schmidt 2017) that span across different “sites” and fields of professional expertise. Despite a common legal framework at the federal level, we observe a high municipal heterogeneity regarding scope, risk-orientation, implied actors, linkage between “supporting” and “controlling” elements and socio-material “equipment” of early support networks. Based on Dorothy Smith ́s (2005) concept of Institutional Ethnography and Schatzki ́s practice Theory framework, we reconstruct risk-assessment practices not as decontextualized „decision-making“, but as a socially situated, distributed social practice in “populated“ (practices, humans and things) organizational networks. While the project aims at the reconstruction of the procedural formation of classifications and differentiations regarding “risk” (may it concern parents, families or children) our contribution will mainly focus on the “material arrangements” (Schatzki 2016, 33) such as risk-assessment and screening tools put to use in risk-assessment practices. Through entering into “people ́s local practices of working, drawing, reading, looking” a.s.o (Smith 2001: 159), Texts authorize and regulate local practice and coordinate local activities with an extra local social order. They contain both norms of cognition, affordances and assumptions on how work should be carried out as well as explicit and implicit norms of “good parenting” and “risk” in childhood. Last but not least, we argue that “doing family” occurs in and through risk-assessment practices: by differently positioning and addressing children and adults as e.g. responsible, care-receivers, dangerous, unwilling or deficient, welfare practices become a central “site” in which generational order is (re-)produced and in which the relationship between parents, children and the state is negotiated and put to test.

Betz, T., Honig, M. S., & Ostner, I. (2017).: Parenting Practices and Parenting Support in recent Debates and Polices. Journal of Family Research/Zeitschrift für Familienforschung. Speciual Issue Vol. 11 Parents in the Spotlight: Parenting Practices and Support from a Comparative Perspective. Verlag Barbara Budrich.

Kelle, H., & Schmidt, F. (2017). Räume der Beobachtung von Kindern. Einführung in den Schwerpunkt. Zeitschrift für Soziologie der Erziehung und Sozialisation. ZSE, 37 (4).

Smith, D. E. (2005). Institutional ethnography: A sociology for people. Rowman Altamira.

Schatzki, T. R. (2016). Praxistheorie als flache Ontologie. In: H. Schäfer (Hrsg.), Praxistheorie. Ein soziologisches Forschungsprogramm. Bielefeld: transcript, S. 29-44.

Managing undesired Behavior and assessing Family Constellations: the role of teachers and schools in child placements in Switzerland, 1950 to 1980 – Bollag, Jessica / Bühler, Caroline / Deluigi, Tamara / Ducommun, Mira (Bern/SUI)

Through child placements, Swiss authorities intervened directly in the lives and social relationships of families (Gabriel et al. 2018). According to estimations over 100’000 children were placed in homes and foster families in the 20th century – often against the will of the affected families (Lengwiler 2018). In this paper we investigate the role that schools played inthe assessment and construction of “good” and “bad” family constellations in child placement processes.

Since the introduction of compulsory school education on a federal level (1874) and after the establishment of the right of children to education (1907), welfare institutions increasingly used the school as a link to families that were considered at risk or otherwise problematised. From the 19th century onwards, teachers were key figures in the process of identifying undesirable characteristics in children, both with regard to their behaviour in school and to their family situation (Deluigi 2016). In deciding whether or not to exclude children, teachers did not only rely on achievement-based categories or school relevant behaviour but also on moral concepts and value judgements about their families of origin. Hence, the school constitutes a space of discipline and power where pedagogically and organisationally “undesirable categories” can be detected (Stechow 2008).

Based on qualitative analyses of case files from the cantons of Bern and Ticino, we reconstruct how child placements came about between 1950 and 1980 and what role the school played in it. This corpus of data, which can be differentiated by (linguistic) region, enables insightful contrasts.

The analysis of the historical sources shows that the responsible authorities significantly relied on the assessment and information of different institutions and professionals. The schools play a central role here: the education and youth offices were dependent on information from the schools to determine “deviant behaviour”. It is also remarkable that child placement processes were often initiated after a teacher articulated a problem. The first act of categorisation thus often took place in the context of the school (e.g. describing a child’s behaviour as “intolerable”). This primary “diagnosis” must be seen in the context of attempts towards homogenisation in state schools: “intolerable” children were to be removed. Even in cases where adolescents had been placed in an institution after completing their education, their school assessments were relevant for documenting and evaluating them. The “gate-keeper” function of teachers (Nittel 1992) can therefore not only be understood regarding the mediation of knowledge but also towards families: Teachers decide which families are recognized and which are problematized in education and socialization processes in schools.

The paper shows that expectations regarding families and the “management” of undesired behavior changed with the reorganization of school structures and new educational services. Teachers, headmasters and school authorities were decisively involved in assessing families. These assessments in turn were used by authorities as a base in order to legitimize placing a child in care. The example of child placements illustrates that school actors play a central role when it comes to managing and administering families.