Back to RJ Archive

Democratising the Family and the State? The Case of Family Group Conferences in Child Welfare

Holland, Sally
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) Journal of Social Policy.34(1):59-77.

This article discusses the potential of family group conferences to act as a liberating intervention for families traditionally controlled by the state welfare system. Family group conferences are interventions designed to remove control of decision making from professionals and allow family groups to make decisions about the welfare of one of more of their members. Using data from a qualitative evaluation of family group conferences in Wales, this article examines ‘imposed empowerment’ and social control, and the feasibility of treating ‘the family’ as a unit for state intervention. The authors propose that the family group conference approach not only has the potential to shift the balance of power between the state and client families, but that it may have the potential to democratize decision making within the families. However, it is also noted that such interventions can be seen to be maintaining social control through subtle and possibly unintentional means. The article engages with sociological research and theory on democracy in the family.


Support the cause

We've Been Restoring Justice for More Than 40 Years

Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends for prisoners and those affected by their actions. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.

Donate Now