Attachment provision in the Saudi orphanages: Exploring the narratives of residential staff

Antigonos Sochos & Najla Al‐Jasas - International Journal of Social Welfare


This qualitative study explored the accounts of 50 residential childcare staff in Saudi Arabia, aiming to identify ways in which staff and residential institutions may function as attachment objects for the children in their care. Rather than conducting a formal attachment assessment, a semi‐structured interview schedule was utilised, intending to generate novel insights into the child–carer relationship. Informed by attachment theory, thematic analysis suggested that keyworkers' narratives were organised around three conceptual dichotomies – social rejection versus social acceptancedistress versus containment and development of the self versus bonding. The accounts also indicated that staff and institutions might encounter significant challenges in providing emotional security to the orphans, challenges touching upon all three levels – individual, dyadic and collective.