Power and the historic abuse of children in care

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

This thesis advances understandings of the historic abuse of children in care through an exploration of power and also offers new insights in relation to conceptualising power within the field of social work. Drawing on interviews with victims/survivors of historic abuse from Scotland, this thesis will argue that understanding power within the context of historic abuse is central to advancing both social policy and social work practice in this area. Furthermore, despite the existence of a plethora of knowledge on the topic of power, an exploration of power specifically in relation to the historic abuse of children in care, allows for theoretical advancements in conceptualising and understanding power within the social work context.Through an analysis of the data derived from interviews with victims/survivors of historic abuse, three key findings are presented. Firstly, it is evidenced that power in relation to the historic abuse of children in care is exercised on three interrelated yet distinct levels, namely that of the individual, professional and structural. Whilst secondly, it is shown that the exercise of such power may impact individuals in limiting, productive and simultaneously limiting/productive ways. And thirdly, it is argued that the prevailing dichotomy which features so centrally in theoretical conceptualisations of power within social work as something 'good or bad', 'positive or negative' and 'productive or limiting' is essentially false, and that power also needs to be recognised as something which may impact in a dualistic way; and therefore a new framework for 'Power Informed Practice' is offered. As a result of these findings, it is imperative that those concerned with the historic abuse of children in care, are mindful of the workings of power in how practice and policy responses are shaped.
Date of Award27 Apr 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorLaura Piacentini (Supervisor) & Christine Jones (Supervisor)

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