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Institutt for administrasjon og organisasjonsvitenskap

PH.D.-Profil: Mathea Loen

The research project aims to identify conditions and mechanisms for sustaining legitimacy in the child protection service, and to gain understanding of the debates about children’s rights, child protection and family values.

Hovedinnhold

“I work on identifying and examining the mechanisms for legitimacy towards the child protection service, and I seek to explain the difference in legitimacy levels across time and space.”

My PhD project is part of the Legitimacy Challenges project at the Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism at UiB. The research project aims to identify conditions and mechanisms for sustaining legitimacy in the child protection service, and to gain understanding of the debates about children’s rights, child protection and family values. My project will particularly focus on mapping the opinions, views, and discourses of the child protection service among citizens in general and opponents and proponents.

States can place restrictions on individual freedoms, including parental freedom when children’s safety or best interest are at risk. However, state interventions such as restricting parental rights by removing children from their children are severe examples of paternalism, and ought to be legitimate in the population. Recently, Norway has been subject to harsh criticism related to the child protection service and protection of children’s rights. This criticism is extensive, it comes in the form of demonstrations, protests, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the media. Especially, the surge of religious and ultra-conservative organisations that work towards influencing politicians and citizens constitute an interesting phenomenon whose organisation and strategies we know little about. These critics question the legitimacy of the child protection service and children’s rights, and represent the legitimacy challenges we are concerned with in this project. As for the mechanisms that build or erode legitimacy, the project focuses on the deliberative aspect of decision making, and I am implementing literature on moral convergence between citizens and decision-makers.

My project focuses on legitimacy perceptions in populations in the six country cases (Norway, Finland, Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, and United Kingdom), and legitimacy perceptions among opponents and proponents in the debate about child protection service, children’s rights, and family values. I work on identifying and examining the mechanisms for legitimacy towards the child protection service, and I seek to explain the difference in legitimacy levels across time and space. I rely on a magnitude of data and methods including population surveys, discourse analysis and topic modelling from (social) media, legal documents, and documents written by proponents and opponents.