The transition to adulthood from care as a struggle for recognition

Veronika Paulsen & Nigel Thomas - Child & Family Social Work


This article explores young people's experiences in the transition to adulthood from child welfare services and how Honneth's theory of recognition can be useful as an analytical tool to help us understand these experiences. The underpinning empirical research consisted of interviews and focus groups with 43 adolescents who had been in contact with Norwegian child welfare services. Three themes emerged as particularly important: having good relationships to caring adults, being listened to and able to influence their own lives, and receiving support and encouragement. The research shows how young people's difficulties in leaving care can be understood as experiences of misrecognition and points to some ways in which these can be overcome.