The (de-)institutionalisation of empowerment. The complex remake of child and family welfare arrangements in Western Europe


  • Ingo Bode University of Kassel


welfare state theory, institutionisation, child protection, childcare, empowerment


Internationally, child and family welfare provision is widely expected to contribute to the empowerment of young people. Over the last decades, related activities have seen a progressive movement of institutionalisation, given the amplification and further professionalisation of welfare programmes, particularly those related to early childhood education and child protection work. Tacking stock of studies from various European countries, this review essay argues that institutional change in this universe has nonetheless been paradoxical as relevant arrangements have been subject to movements of de-institutionalisation, due to the rise of ‘activation schemes’, new modes of public management, and a creeping re-conceptualisation of the educational and social work endeavour. This makes the empowerment agenda selective and less inclusive overall.






Special Issue: (De)Institutionalisation in the Fields of Social Services and Social Work