Disrupted networks and continuing bonds: Exploring young people’s experiences of foster care using a social capital approach

Justin Rogers

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


There are 87000 children and young people in public care in the United Kingdom (UK), with over 70% being placed in foster care (The Fostering Network, 2011). The reasons that children and young people enter in to public care are complex; they include child abuse and/or neglect and/or issues relating to their parent's mental health or substance abuse difficulties
(Schofield, 2000; Sinclair, 2005; Biehal et al., 2010). For most children and young people in the UK who enter foster care, they are placed outside of their birth/ kinship family. This can mean moving to a different area and also changing schools, which can significantly disrupt a child's social networks.
This project examines these disrupted social networks through the application of the concept of social capital, as understood by Bourdieu
(1986). The data was gathered across two in-depth qualitative interviews, with a total of ten young people in foster care aged between twelve and fourteen years old. Task based visual methods were employed, which included both eco-mapping and photo elicitation techniques. This doctoral research project is still a work in progress and this paper focuses on one aspect of the preliminary findings. The paper highlights the ways that young people in foster
care are actively engaged in practices to preserve relationships across their disrupted social networks. Even in the context where a young person's physical contact with their family and friends was disrupted, supervised or stopped, they were still finding ways to actively manage these relationships, in order to preserve social capital.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Event50th Anniversary Social Work Symposium - Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Duration: 29 May 201331 May 2013


Conference50th Anniversary Social Work Symposium
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
CityHong Kong


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