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No nation today can be understood as being fully child-centered, but many are pursuing social policies heavily favoring children. The emphasis on individual rights and the growth of scientific knowledge underpinning many of these policies have led to the improvement of the lives of a great many children. Paradoxically, these same knowledge bases informing social policies often produce representations and images of children and their parents that are detrimental for both of these groups. Using Norwegian child welfare policies and practices as examples, I will examine some of the possible pitfalls of child-centered praxis. The key question here is one asking whether the scientific frame central to child welfare professionalism has positioned children and parents as objects rather than subjects in their own lives and, in so doing, required them to live up to standards of life defined for them by experts. A central question will involve exploring the extent to which scientific knowledge has erased political and ethical considerations from the field when assessing social problems.
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