The circular construction of “risk” for children of oppressed groups: Israeli social workers' perspectives on children of Ethiopian origin

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Abstract

This article presents the findings of a research project that explored the perceptions and constructions of Israeli social workers, serving families of Ethiopian origin in Israel, regarding “risk” vis-à-vis the children of this community. Thirty semistructured in-depth interviews with social workers of Ethiopian and non-Ethiopian origin were conducted and thematically analysed. The study findings indicate that the risk posed to children from the Ethiopian community, as conceived by the social workers charged with their treatment, tends to emerge in the interface between four main contexts: the societal, the neighbourhood, the education system, and the welfare system. Resembling the cycle of poverty, in which a cyclical set of forces trap people in perpetual poverty, children from minority groups are often caught in a cycle of risk. In each of these four contexts, a circular movement was observed in the construction of risk. Breaking the circularity of “risk” requires a context-informed approach that adopts the perspectives of critical theories, which consider structural factors, power relations, and sociopolitical context when assessing “risk” for children in general, and for children of oppressed groups in particular.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)602-610
Number of pages9
JournalChild and Family Social Work
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) (Grant 1958/17).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Keywords

  • context-informed perspective
  • culture
  • Ethiopian community
  • Israel
  • perceptions of risk for children
  • social work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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