Soc. Sci.2015, 4(1), 192-204; doi:10.3390/socsci4010192 (registering DOI) - published 2 March 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: There is documented correlation between parental substance abuse, child maltreatment, and poor outcomes. In two health districts in Sydney, Australia (Site A and B), specialised clinics were established to provide comprehensive assessments for infants of substance abusing mothers (ISAM). We aimed to determine whether there was a difference in outcomes between infants who attended clinic versus those who did not; and to identify differences in the pathways to care between sites. We analysed child protection reports and available health markers of all ISAM referrals in 2011. We held stakeholder meetings with services involved with ISAM in both sites; to describe service components; strengths and weaknesses of pathways. Fifty-five per cent (11/20) attended clinic in Site A; 80% (25/31) in Site B. Three-quarters of ISAM had at least one referral to child welfare; child protection service involvement was more common in those who attended. Immunisation status was lower than the national Australian average; approximately half were seen by community nursing services. Gaps in services, lack of database, and differences in pathways between sites were identified. Attending clinics correlates with child protection service involvement and may afford health protection. Transparent communication, service integration, and shared learning can improve outcomes for this vulnerable group.
Abstract: In this article I explore the contemporary normative meanings of friendship, unpacking the subject through two different questions: “what is a good friend?” and “what is an intimate friend?” Drawing on survey data from a national representative sample (n = 1142), the topic is explored in the context of a southern European country (Portugal) that represents an interesting case study, for its characteristics of late, though abrupt, entrance into late modernity. Statistical analysis of the results enabled the construction of an exploratory typology of representations of friendship, according to the meanings ascribed to friends: family-oriented; trust-oriented; self-oriented; and presence-oriented. Results inspire a two-folded interpretation. On the one hand, they point to a pervasiveness of hegemonic representations such as friendship as trust and self-disclosure, namely among the younger and more educated. On the other hand, they highlight the pervasiveness of kinship ties in the definition of friendship, namely among the elderly and less educated. This suggests that patterns of suffusion may not only refer to more individualized and plural arrangements of personal life, but also to the persistence of more traditional representations and practices, characterized by an ideological commitment to the family in its more institutional forms.
Abstract: Randall Collins’ theory of interaction ritual chains is widely cited, but has been subject to little theoretical elaboration. One reason for the modest expansion of the theory is the underdevelopment of the concept of emotional energy. This paper examines emotional energy, related particularly to the dynamics of negative experiences. It asks whether or not negative emotions produce emotional energies that are qualitatively distinct from their positive counterparts. The analysis begins by tracing the development of Interaction Ritual Theory, and summarizes its core propositions. Next, it moves to a conceptualization of a “valenced” emotional energy and describes both “positive” and “negative” dimensions. Six propositions outline the central dynamics of negative emotional energy. The role of groups in the formation of positive and negative emotional energy are considered, as well as how these energies are significant sources of sociological motivation.
Abstract: This article examines the impact of social policies on the living conditions of poor families—particularly women—in Latin America from the late 1980s to the present. It identifies three distinct trends of familialism in the region’s social protection systems. The first social policy trend is characterized by poverty alleviation policies addressing the family in an “elliptical” way, taking for granted the idea of a nuclear family. The distinguishing trait of the second trend is the appearance of social programs aimed at families and stressing the role of women as chief caregivers and administrators. And finally, the third policy trend is defined by an expansion of more universal social programs targeting children and the elderly. Despite the recent emergence of programs with gender specific goals, social policies continue to put a great burden on female workers. For example, many subsidies to poor families deliver money directly to women, improving their intra-family bargaining power, but this translates also into an increase of responsibilities and the ensuing overload of work. Consequently, social policies in Latin America need to aim at encouraging a more egalitarian distribution of housework and care work within the family, especially given how well-established androcentrism is in the region.
Abstract: In Sweden, municipal social services provide help and support for vulnerable people with a variety of needs. Although the family has long been understood to be a focus of social work interventions, it is unclear how it is brought into the casework process in the highly individualised and specialised municipal social services. Therefore, in this study we investigated processes of client-making and role assignment in five service sectors: social assistance, child welfare, substance abuse, disability, and elderly care. We carried out focus group interviews with social workers in each of these sectors in a mid-sized community in central Sweden. Findings showed that clienthood and the family are interpreted in different ways. The family is brought into or kept out of service provisions in ways that are connected to social workers’ construction of the family either as expert, client or non-client. However, the role of the family may also change during the casework process. Findings are examined in relation to theories of the welfare state and implications for family-focused practice are discussed.
Abstract: The EU and most aid donors invoke a strong normative power face by explicitly connecting foreign aid with human and social development. However, how well the EU’s rhetoric is consistent with its practices as a multilateral development actor has not been explored extensively. In this study, we challenge the normative dimension of the EU’s development policy and explore whether the EU’s Official Development Assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa is based on objective deprivation on the part of recipient countries or whether it is “interest driven”. We use a least squares dummy variable model regression to examine aid flows from the EU to all 48 Sub-Saharan African states for the period 2000 to 2010. The evidence found indicates that in certain instances, aid allocation contradicts the normative rhetoric that the EU uses to describe its development policy, as the donor’s own interests in the region seem to supersede priority given to the needs of the aid recipient states. A limitation to the findings is the fact that normative values and strategic interests are not mutually exclusive. Nevertheless, the present study suggests that the EU’s portrayal as a force for good in international relations requires cautious critique.