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Children participating in family decisions

Author(s): Rudolf RICHTER | Ulrike ZARTLER

Journal: Revista de Cercetare şi Intervenţie Socială
ISSN 1583-3410

Volume: 32;
Start page: 7;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: participation | family | children | negotiations | communication

Children are nowadays seen as self-reliant subjects able to articulate their wishes and to participate in family decisions. International studies have shown that children in Austria participate in family affairs only to a moderate extent. National studies just as well indicate that there is much more interest on the part of the children to engage in family affairs than is actually realized in family’s everyday lives. We present an Austrian qualitative study which takes a closer look at families and the negotiating procedures within them. The main aim was to find out how participation works within the family, thus discovering the driving forces of consensus and conflict. The study comprises material from children’s and parent’s points of view. We made photo interviews with 10-year-old children (n = 50) and problem-centered interviews with their parents (n = 71). Results show that children were allowed to participate in different fields from furnishing their room to deciding on changing the home in different ways. Participation processes were usually structured, and mothers and fathers were involved differently. In general, participation was very much influenced by the actual and ascribed competence of the children.
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