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Everyday Life with Economic Hardship From children's point of view Anne Harju The university of Växjö, soon to become Linnaeus University.

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Presentation on theme: "Everyday Life with Economic Hardship From children's point of view Anne Harju The university of Växjö, soon to become Linnaeus University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Everyday Life with Economic Hardship From children's point of view Anne Harju The university of Växjö, soon to become Linnaeus University

2 Child poverty in a Swedish context Social democratic welfare-state regime = high degree of state responsibility for securing the welfare for its citizens. According to UNICEF (2007) Sweden has a high child wellbeing on the basis of dimensions as material well- being, health and safety, education, peer and family relationships, behaviours and risks and young people’s own subjective sense of well-being. Low child poverty rates (defined as equivalent income less than 50% of the national median, UNICEF 2007).

3 Aim Focus on the challenges poor children in a welfare state as Sweden confront. Central questions: How do the children experience their everyday life in the given context in which they find themselves? How do they act in relation to the family’s limited economy?

4 Children as actors Children interpret and reflect over the situation and choose to act in different ways on the basis of their opportunities and limitations. (Närvanen & Näsman 2007)

5 The children and their families The sample includes a total of 8 adults and 14 children aged 7–19 in seven families. Children and parents were interviewed on 5 occasions over a period of 14 months, from September 2005 to October On two occasions the interviews were with the children alone. All the families are in one way or another dependent on government subsidies to make ends meet. They live on social support, social support combined with study allowance, sickness allowance or income from work combined with sickness allowance. They have lived with economic hardship for many years.

6 Results discussed today Limited possibilities to social and material participation Basic needs Children's agency

7 Why social participation is vital “Mutually focused emotions and attention producing a momentarily shared reality and thereby generates solidarity and symbols of group membership”. (Goffman in Collins 2004:7) Randall Collins (2004) takes it further by using the term emotional energy.

8 Visiting the cinema Anders: I have not been to the cinema for a long time. I find it on Internet. Me: Do you download a lot? Anders: We don’t do it so much because our computer is not that good, but I know people who do it for me. But it is fun to visit the cinema with friends. It's not the same feeling to watch movies at home. Me: Is it to watch the movie that is important or to go there with friends? Anders: It is to go there with friends and afterward you can laugh and talk about the movie together. Its not funny to go to the cinema alone. At home you can watch a movie alone but not at the cinema.

9 Symbolic functions Well, I don’t know, well you can do other things with them. Have more fun with them, and a better computer is faster, and then, like if one has a bad, and a friend has a good, so maybe one is ashamed, but I am not. Felicia, 12

10 Integrating functions “Football, music and the computer. These are my vital things. The computer maybe not that much but fairly, because there you can, instead of calling, you can communicate. If I want to meet somebody, then I first check if they are on Internet, if not I call them and say “log in to internet so we can talk there”. Felicia, 12

11 Access to a computer and Internet Access to internet and a computer is important for the children. It gives a possibility to exceed the psychical limits that the children are confronted with. Internet also gives the children access to entertainment such as films, music and games.

12 Clothes for practical functions We don’t have that much money, sometimes you don’t get clothes. I for example don’t have so many clothes, because I grow out of everything so fast. Anders, 16

13 Having to leave the home ”Its tough actually. That's what's tough, that I can't tell my friends where I live, because I'm ashamed”. Maria, 10

14 A own room “You know, a house with big rooms, so they have many rooms, so perhaps you could have a room for yourself. That’s good, because then you can do what you want. For example when the others disturb you”. Hanna, 10

15 The Children's agency The children interpret and reflect over the situation and choose to act in different ways. Their action is expressed by different strategies: -Reactive, that is, strategies for adapting to the economical limitations. -Proactive strategies, that is, intents to affect and change the own and also the family’s scope for action.

16 Strategies used by the children Crying Nagging Demanding Prioritizing Knowing where to turn Work Save Planning Seek to be invited Use own money Turn to social network Buying cheap & second- hand Borrow Express: Dissatis- faction Disappoin- tment Frustration Irritation Not to ask Hide Take stance aginst Not spend Not need Wait Not think that it is important to have & do Referring to practical suitability Not thinking about things

17 Economic responsibility “It was a decision that I took. My mum understood, because there were many things happening in our family, so I had to take a break. I couldn’t concentrate on school. Before I go back to school I want to work so I can help mum with her bills. I can see that the extra grant they are giving me, doesn’t help her”. Aysha, 19

18 Self-denial “I don’t think it is so important, I don’t care but she, my friend does. But me and my friend, we don’t care. If someone would bully me, which they don’t, I wouldn’t care. And then, one doesn’t have so much money, so one can’t buy everything, and I don’t like to have the same things that everyone else”.

19 Final words A uniform childhood in relation to everyday life in economic hardship. Children are not in a welfare state as Sweden protected from the consequences of poverty. Article 27 about the relation between state and the parent's.


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