“They Are Stumbling Around Quite Helplessly”: How Supporters of Refugee Families Frame Vulnerability and Agency Relating to Childcare

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There are indications that refugee families face significant challenges relating to the access to childcare, including based on language and structural barriers. Previous research has shown that volunteers often support in overcoming such barriers. Thus, they potentially influence refugee families’ access to childcare. Against this background, this contribution analyses voluntary support concerning refugee families’ access to childcare from the perspective of constructivist Grounded Theory Methodology based on qualitative interviews with voluntary supporters of refugee families and coordinators of volunteers. It examines how these supporters frame problems relating to the access to childcare and which solutions they propose, applying a relational understanding of vulnerability and agency. This approach is based on the assumption that supporters’ interpretations of refugee families’ needs and capabilities relating to childcare influence their offers of support and the extent to which it suits the needs of these families. The findings demonstrate how supporters vary in their depiction of problems and solutions and point to the implications of their framings. On the one hand, supporters play an important role in recognising vulnerability, which is a precondition for countering it. On the other hand, they face the risk of overemphasising vulnerability, while potentially disregarding or even hindering agency.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPower in Vulnerability : a multi-dimensional review of migrants’ vulnerabilities
EditorsN. Fromm, A. Jünemann, H. Safouane
Number of pages29
Place of PublicationWiesbaden
PublisherSpringer VS
Publication date2021
ISBN (print)978-3-658-34051-3
ISBN (electronic)978-3-658-34052-0
Publication statusPublished - 2021