Department of Government

The emergence and evolution of child politics in comparative perspective

The UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) is commonly summarized through the three P’s: provision, protection and participation. The convention holds an agency oriented view of children and adopts a multidimensional approach to children’s welfare. The overarching purpose of this project is to analyze the emerging phenomenon of child policy since 1960 in a comparative perspective. On a normative level this framework is inspired by the CRC. On a theoretical level, it attempts to incorporate the notion of participatory rights into the definition of child welfare. We have elaborated a conceptual framework for analyzing child policy, including a taxonomy for different kinds of interventions, that will be tested as an instrument for classifying and mapping the child policy development among the most advanced OECD countries in a genealogical perspective. The project builds on the feminist critique of mainstream welfare state research but contends that the de-familialization has not been taken to the full to view all members of the family as individual units and rights-bearers. Building on the insights from the childhood literature and children’s rights, we will identify important dimensions of child policy. Variations along those dimensions will give different types of child policy regimes. The task of the project is to apply this conceptual framework in a critical examination of the social policy development in Sweden and other OECD countries over the past decades. A comparative case study of Norway and Sweden will generate hypotheses about positive and negative factors for the emergence and development of child policies. On the agenda is how child well-being can be improved by taking into account different dimensions of child welfare in the design of policies.