Article Information


Maija Jäppinen (E-mail:

University of Helsinki, Finland

Citation: Jäppinen M. Krovnyye roditeli detey, izyatykh iz sem'i, v diskurse sotrudnikov organov zashchity detey [Biological parents of children in alternative care in the discourses of child welfare professionals]. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 21(3): 93–114 (in Russian).

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Abstract. The child welfare reform in Russia heads at deinstitutionalizing the old system of children’s homes, developing family foster care, and preventive work with families. Until now, the main accent of the reform has been on foster families. Work with biological parents has remained in the margins of both policy reforms and academic research. This discourse-analytical study focuses on biological parents of children, who have been placed into institutions or foster families, and their role on the life of their children. What kind of discourses do child welfare professionals use when talking about these parents and their parenthood? What kind of roles can these parents have in the lives of their children? The analysis builds on 20 semi-structured interviews conducted in Nizhni Novgorod region in 2015–2016. In the analysis, four main discourses were found: (1) discourse of lost parenthood, (2) discourse of biological parents as a threat to child’s adaptation, (3) discourse of neglected parental responsibilities, and (4) discourse of parents in need of support. Ways of enhancing biological parents’ participation in the lives of children in out-of-home care are discussed in the end of the article. Parenthood can be precious even in a situation, when child cannot live at home with the biological parents.

Keywords: child welfare, deinstitutionalisation, alternative care, biological parents, parenthood, discourse analysis

Acknowledgements: The project “A Child’s Right to a Family — Deinstitutionalisation of Child Welfare in Putin’s Russia” has received funding from the University of Helsinki, Aleksanteri Institute, and Kone Foundation. The author also wants to express her gratitude to the project team led by Dr. Meri Kulmala for collaboration and support, and to Prof. Nina Ivashinenko’s team in Nizhni Novgorod State University for the interview material used in the study.



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