Children and childhood in Chile: Social worker perspectives

Ida Bruheim Jensen, Ingunn T. Ellingsen, Ingunn Studsrød, Manuela Garcia Quiroga

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1 Scopus citations


This study explores understandings of children and childhood among 21 social workers from five child protection services in Chile. To help grasp multiple ideas about children and childhood, we use Q methodology and the 'child visibility' concept. The object is to explore dissimilar and/or similar views on child visibility among social workers and the characteristics of these viewpoints. The results reveal three distinct views on child visibility. Based on the characteristics of these perspectives, we have conceptualized the workers associated with them as: activists, buffers and experts. The activists vigorously seek children's own perspectives, and produce an image of capable children with unique perspectives. The buffers and the experts, however, typically define children's needs from their own perspectives. Nevertheless, through differing logics, the experts focus on children's vulnerability and protection needs, while the buffers are more inclined to view children in terms of their contextual risk and on the margins in an underfunded child protection context. Despite these differences, there are shared viewpoints among the social workers, for example, by understanding children as relational. The results are discussed in light of current theory within childhood studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Comparative Social Work
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019


  • Child protection
  • Chile
  • Q methodology
  • Social workers
  • Understandings of children and childhood


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