Transforming child welfare: from explicit to implicit control of families


Publication date


Series/Report no

European Journal of Social Work;17(5)


Taylor & Francis

Document type


Through a historical review of child welfare laws and policies between 1896 and 1992 in Norway, this article investigates the state control of families. The central questions in this article relate to the transformations in the forms of state control of families. The research on which this article is based has relied on a genealogical approach. The sources are comprised of previous studies focusing on the historical development of child welfare in Norway. This article argues that state control, from having been explicit in the late nineteenth century, has today become increasingly implicit and hidden. Indeed, the value granted to children's rights and equality has made opposition to state interventions in families difficult. I relate the transformations in state control of families to the affirmation of the norms of ‘egalitarian individualism’. As Norway is amongst the first European countries to make child-centrism a hallmark of its social policies, these findings have implications for EU countries that may follow its path.



This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published Picot, A.M.M. (2014). Transforming child welfare: from explicit to implicit control of families, 17(5). doi: [copyright Taylor & Francis], available online at:

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