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VAM-Velferd, arbeid og migrasjon

Legitimacy challenges - An analysis of mistrust in core institutions and the normative fundament of the welfare state.

Alternative title: Legitimitetsutfordringer - En analyse av mistillit til samfunnsinstitusjoner og det normative grunnlaget for velferdsstaten.

Awarded: NOK 12.0 mill.

The Norwegian child protection system has in recent years been subject to harsh criticism both nationally and internationally. This is despite the fact that Norway is consistently ranked high on all types of measures on child rights and child well-being. Part of the criticism of the Norwegian child welfare system has come from citizens groups and religious and ultra-conservative groups abroad. The critics questions the legitimacy of the child protection system and children's rights, and are simultaneously expressing a huge mistrust in legal institutions and the normative foundations of the Nordic welfare state model. We currently know very little about how these groups are organized, what their arguments are, and how their message is received by other citizens in Norway and abroad. We also lack knowledge about how the government reacts to the criticism. The project "Legitimacy Challenges" will provide new knowledge of how the legitimacy of core institutions is affected by mobilization against social and political rights. The project is the most comprehensive cross-country study ever undertaken on this topic. The project analyzes and compares the opinions of citizens in six different countries on the topic of family values and children's rights. In addition, the project maps the organisation of and strategies applied by opponents and proponents in the debate, and critically analyse the rationality of discourses around child protection and children's rights. Web: https://discretion.uib.no/projects/legitimacy-challenges/ The project is still in an early phase and progress has principally been made towards data collection and analysis. A planned population survey was piloted in March 2021 and in subsequent months fielded in Norway, Czech Republic, Finland, Poland, Romania and Great Britain by a subcontracted data collection company. The results from the survey were received in August 2021 and are currently being analyzed by project staff. Academic articles based on these data are under development. The project has conducted a total of five project meetings. In addition, a workshop is being planned towards the end of 2021. Preliminary analyses of collected data will be presented and discussed at this workshop. Project members have also presented ongoing research related to LEGITIMACY CHALLENGES at international conferences, such as Bergen Exchanges (August 2021) and EuSARF (September 2021). Moreover, popular science publications have been published on our webpage, including a blogpost on countermobilization against an attempt to take Scottish child protection to a new level. You can read the blogpost here: https://discretion.uib.no/an-attempt-to-take-child-protection-to-a-new-level-in-scotland/. Since previous reporting, the project has employed Mathea Loen (from 2020) as PhD Candidate and Hege Stein Helland as Postdoc (from 2022).

The Norwegian child protection system have been exposed to harsh criticism from citizen groups and religious- and ultra conservative groups. At the same time Norway is consistently ranked high on all types of measures on child rights and child well-being. The critics questions the legitimacy of the child protection system and children's rights, but are simultaneously expressing a huge mistrust in legal institutions and the normative foundations of the Nordic welfare state model. There are huge knowledge gaps on what is going on in these groups, how they operate, how they are organized and funded, and what their messages are. Further, we do not know how the critique is received by other citizens, and how governments operate and respond to the critique. There is a pressing need for knowledge about how the meaning formation in societies and the public debates are influenced by the mobilization, and what role this has for the legitimacy of welfare state policies. LEGITIMACY aims to reveal conditions and mechanisms for sustaining legitimacy in societies in which there is a backlash on social and political right developments. The project will be the most comprehensive cross-country study ever undertaken on this topic, and it is pioneering in its empirical and critical ambition to understand the rationale behind what seem to be a strong citizen driven mobilization against established welfare system in democratic states. The empirical themes are child protection interventions, children's rights and the debate about the Norwegian child protection system. By mapping the organisation of and strategies applied by opponents and proponents in the debate, mapping and critically analyse the rationality of the discourse's, and examine and compare the citizens opinions in six countries, LEGITIMACY promises to move the research front in our understanding of institutional legitimacy in contemporary welfare societies and our knowledge about social and political right developments.

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VAM-Velferd, arbeid og migrasjon