A Foucaultian analysis of power relations in child protection case work with youth and families
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This thesis takes some steps in examining the child protection system from a position that is rarely discussed. Specifically, I explore how Foucault's concept of disciplinary power can be used to demonstrate how power operates within the client/worker relationship. This relationship is shown to be quite complex with power flowing bidirectionally, rather than hierarchically. Instead of viewing power imbalances as a function of state control, I show how the client/worker relationship is constituted by the worker, the client, the organization and the social body. A postmodern auto ethnography is used to document my journey as I expose the disciplinary practices and instruments that I was subject to and used with my clients. 2 Given that the child protection system is constantly shifting and changing in order to improve its ability to safeguard children a greater emphasis is required to examine how workers operate within this complex, overwhelming and multi-dimensional world. This thesis has shown that by engaging in a reflexive examination of my position of power different approaches to making intervention beneficial to all involved become available. This is important if child protection work aims to work with clients rather than on clients.