Negotiating Care Between Parents and State Officials

Jennifer Rasell - Care of the State



This chapter of Care of the State: Relationships, Kinship and the State in Children’s Homes in Late Socialist Hungary explores negotiations between parents and state officials about the care of their children, showing that gendered norms of parenting and ‘appropriate’ family units were implicit parts of child protection policies in state socialist Hungary. This chapter offers insights into the workings and contradictions of diverse state layers, thereby contributing to a central argument of the book that the state is a fragmented form of social organisation that is constantly being made through interactions. Views about appropriate interventions varied among different professionals involved in family welfare and some reforms in central policies took time to trickle down and be implemented. Thus, while some social workers would still try to bring poor mothers into paid employment, others would follow a mother-at-home policy. These differences in family ideals opened up some room for manoeuvre for parents to make state officials act in their interest.