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Vulnerable Voices, Who's Listening?: Children's Voices in Post-Separation Family Proceedings in England
Linköping University, Department of Thematic Studies, Department of Child Studies.
2017 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines the way that children’s voices are used, given meaning and conceptualised in post-separation family proceedings in England. With a relatively recent resurgence in policy in England towards promoting the voice of the child, the participation of children in decision-making processes when their parents separate is still a matter for much debate. Previous research in this area has identified the need for a sizeable cultural shift in the way children are conceptualised in legal proceedings if their voices are to be given any meaning and their roles as social actors recognised. This thesis contributes to the field of study by analysing three identified categories of text relevant to the current judicial framework of post-separation family proceedings in England - policy, guidance and case law – following the introduction of new government policy in 2014 to give children a greater voice. 

The analysis indicates that within the current legal framework that the benefit of listening to children’s voices is acknowledged but it is also severely restricted by the operation of the welfare paradigm and interpretations of what might be in a child’s best interests. This means that children’s voices - if they are listened to at all - are seldom heard, since children must first be identified as competent, articulate and not considered too vulnerable or innocent to participate. This study found that there are significant tensions in the way identified discourses interplay within the documents and how these significantly influence the way that children’s voices are given meaning and used. This confirms that children’s voices, despite the recent policy shifts, will still be subject to layers of adult interpretation as to their ability to participate and the meaning that is given to their voices, if their voices are permitted at all in post-separation family proceedings.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , p. 47
Keywords [en]
children's voices, welfare paradigm, participation, private law, post-separation family proceedings
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-144290ISRN: LIU-TEMAB/MPCS-A—17/015—SEOAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-144290DiVA, id: diva2:1173690
Subject / course
Master's Programme in Child Studies (120 ECTS credits)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2018-04-26 Created: 2018-01-12 Last updated: 2018-04-26Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • oxford
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf