Care in the Children’s Home and Wider Circles of Belonging

Jennifer Rasell - Care of the State



This chapter from Care of the State: Relationships, Kinship and the State in Children’s Homes in Late Socialist Hungary centres on relationships outside the family, namely to carers, teachers, villagers and peers, as well as belonging to an ethnic community. These potential relationships were all devalued by the primacy accorded to biological parenting by social policies, state services and carers. One puzzle that I try to understand is why care leavers recalled individual teachers and their actions more often and with greater clarity than the care staff in the children’s home. I suggest this is because children in care received the most personalised attention in school, be it educational or disciplinary. Connected to this is the answer to a second puzzle of why my research was taken to be about Roma, yet none of my interview partners recalled being labelled or labelling a child in care as ‘Gypsy.’ I show how group-based interaction in children’s homes homogenised the children into one category of ‘in care,’ de-ethnicising differences.