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Children playing with a kite.

How children use time and space to navigate the fuzzy boundaries of family life

Join the guest lecture with Dr. Paul Shutterworth, Sussex University, UK

Welcome to a guest lecture with Dr Paul Shuttleworth from Sussex University in UK.

About the lecture

Child welfare, policy, and research frequently construct family in particular, static ways that depend on what is present in family life and how adults can make family life and relationships beneficial for children.

This presentation is based on the study entitled "What Matters to Children in Kinship Care?"

This was the first to make children’s views central to how they navigate a sense of permanence in kinship care. The children demonstrated that they are just as involved in making the family life function as the adults.

Also, the themes that emerged undermined the dichotomy between absence and presence. This resulted in the application of sociological theories of doing and displaying family, fuzzy family life boundaries, and autonomous interdependence.

Also, in addition to objects, children use space, place, and time to manage their frequently fractious relationships. This is a step away from the usual socialisation theories (e.g. attachment and resilience) often used in social work.

It is hoped that the presentation, and more importantly, the discussion that follows, will encourage interdisciplinary thought to link this work to other innovative research (such as children's geographies and new approaches to child participation).

About Paul Shuttleworth 

Paul Shuttleworth is a social worker and academic/researcher who has practiced in Scotland and England since 2008, primarily in the fields of child protection and kinship care.

Paul has been awarded a SeNSS Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Sussex's School of Education and Social Work in England.

This allows him space to speak to other academics and learn from their innovative research for his book. There are also possibilities to explore collaborative research projects.

Paul's current areas of research interest are child participation, kinship care, permanence, child safety and welfare, social work theory and practice, Dialogical Participation, and Critical Realism.

Paul's work employs a unique type of 'what matters' approach. This focuses on values and the ‘in-between spaces’ that exist in child welfare and family life. This includes the fuzzy boundaries of family and how children mobilise time and space.

Importantly, his work ensures that children are at the centre of knowledge production and new family life theorisations.

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