Malin Fævelen

Department of Social work, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Portrait of Malin Fævelen

Negotiation of parenthood – norms and inequality in the Norwegian child welfare service

Project period: September 2018 – November 2023


My PhD project is affiliated with the project «Child welfare and inequality» (founded by Bufdir), which is a collaboration between the Department of social work at NTNU, NTNU Social Research and Sintef.

The topic of the PhD project is norms of parenting, and it has an explorative approach. The “turn to parenting”, with increased attention to parental support within family policy, is identified in Nordic countries as well as other parts of Europe. In the Norwegian child welfare service, measures that aim to enhance “parenting skills” are widely applied and may be seen as an expression of this turn, where there is a risk of paying less attention to contextual and structural conditions for parenting.

The project can be summarized in the overarching research question:

“How do norms of parenting come to play in the Norwegian child welfare context?”

Methods and planned publications:

The project uses both survey data from parents in contact with the child welfare service (N=256), and qualitative in-depth interviews with 37 of these parents, as well as qualitative in-depth interviews with 21 child welfare workers responsible for their family’s child welfare case.

The first article investigates survey data by regression analysis, and it is asked if there is an association between the parent’s socioeconomic status and self-reported parenting practices.

The second article explores two qualitative interviews with child welfare workers in contact with two middle-class families. A three-level positioning analysis of the child welfare workers’ narrations is applied to study the child welfare workers’ norms of good parenting.

The third work is a book chapter, and it draws empirically on one child welfare case, where the family is marginalized along several lines. The empirical material consists of one qualitative interview with the parents, as well as one qualitative interview with the child welfare worker responsible for their case. The analysis is inspired by reflexive and critical research and investigates how the family is being stigmatized by the child welfare service, despite good intentions.

The last article draws on the complete qualitative material (interviews with both parents and child welfare workers). This article explores both theoretically and empirically, the parent’s acts of resistance to the child welfare service exercise of power.


Fævelen, Malin; Fauske, Halvor; Kojan, Bente Heggem; Kaasbøll, Jannike. (2022) Family involvement in child welfare services: The association between socio-economic status and self-reported parenting practices. Child & Family Social Work.


Fævelen, Malin; Kaasbøll, Jannike; Kojan, Bente Heggem; Fauske, Halvor. (2021) Sosioøkonomisk status og foreldreskap hos foreldre i barnevernet. Barnevern og sosioøkonomisk ulikhet – sammenhenger, forståelser og ansvar.

Kojan, Bente Heggem; Storhaug, Anita S.; Paulsen, Veronika; Ulset, Gro; Fævelen, Malin; Thrana, Hilde Marie; Øverland, Mari Bore; Lichtwarck, Willy; Halvorsen, Thomas; Anthun, Kjartan Sarheim; Kaasbøll, Jannike; Fauske, Halvor. (2021) Anbefalinger for barnevernets arbeid med familier som erfarer sosioøkonomiske vansker. Barnevern og sosioøkonomisk ulikhet – sammenhenger, forståelser og ansvar.