Normative Paradoxes of Child Welfare Systems: An Analysis with a Focus on Germany

In: The International Journal of Children's Rights
View More View Less
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):


Child welfare systems often have unintended and undesirable consequences for children and their social environments. They will be analysed by applying the concept of “normative paradoxes” (Honneth and Sutterlüty) and drawing mainly, but not exclusively, on Germany. The normative aim of child welfare legislation will be reconstructed and it will be argued that the law can be perceived as an institutionalisation of a single, albeit internally complex normative principle – i.e., the principle of the child’s autonomy or self-determination. Using this principle as a yardstick, three types of paradoxical effects will be identified. These counter-productive effects of the autonomy-centred welfare principle will be described as the “undermining”, the “subsumption”, and the “distortion” paradoxes. Because discourse in this field has always had some awareness of these paradoxes, legal developments can be interpreted as ongoing attempts to overcome them.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 387 52 0
Full Text Views 248 9 1
PDF Views & Downloads 51 18 3