The home as a site of state intervention

In the social field, state representatives have carried out home visits for over one hundred years. To date, we know little about how such home visits are organized, how they are carried out and to which degree they disturb the privacy and integrity of the families and individuals concerned.

  • Project description (ongoing research project)

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    Social work home visits are state interventions into the privacy of the affected persons and therefore have major implications with regard to fundamental rights. The underlying dilemma of welfare and of coercion persists to date. Our project focuses on the current and former practice of home visits at the intersection of Vormundschaftsbehörden/KESB (guardianship authorities / Swiss Child and Adult Protection Agency) and Fürsorge/Sozialdienste (welfare / social services). Based on case records (personal files), we will reconstruct how home visits were/are used in the German-speaking part of Switzerland from 1960 to 1980 and from 2000 to today. In addition to the analysis of the case records, we will conduct interviews with the affected persons as well as with professionals and to the degree possible, observe home visits.

  • Background

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    To date, home visits have not been a research subject in their own right in Switzerland, neither from a current nor a historical perspective. Furthermore, internationally, home visits have scarcely been investigated. We will reconstruct home visits by social workers in two time periods: from 1960 to 1980 and from 2000 until today. The first period, among others, spans the social upheavals in the wake of ‘1968’ as well as an increasing professionalization of social casework during the second period that saw the introduction of the new Child and Adult Protection Law (KESR) and the creation of a new authority, the Child and Adult Protection Agency (KESB).

  • Aim

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    Our research wishes to analyze changes to home visit practice and their impact on the persons concerned between 1960 and today, with specific focus on the impact of these visits on the course of cases, on case construction processes, and on gender-specific aspects in relation to housing.

  • Relevance

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    Thanks to close cooperation with practical organizations, the research results will serve to sensitize professionals who carry out home visits towards fundamental rights and historical developments.

  • Original title

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    The home as a site of state intervention. Social work home visits in child and adult protection in the German-speaking part of Switzerland (since 1960)