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RDV: Traveling across disciplinary boundaries: A journey into applying literary criticism to public-facing texts by street-level bureaucrats

April 15 @ 14:15 - 15:30

Researchers in the social sciences, including legal studies, political science, social work, and sociology, utilize specific, discipline-based approaches to analyzing written texts, including frequency counts of words and text segments and determining thematic patterns emerging from the data. This seminar, with speakers Katrin Križ and Daniela Reimer and discussant Tarja Pösö, aims to walk participants beyond the boundaries of these social science approaches by introducing the methods of literary criticism and reflecting on their methodological potential. What can social scientists learn from literary criticism methods for analyzing public-facing texts by street-level bureaucrats? “Public-facing texts” are documents by street-level bureaucrats like child protection caseworkers, judges, teachers, and police officers written for members of the public as part of public policy implementation. Examples of these texts in child protection are court judgments or university course curricula for future child protection caseworkers. This seminar explores how literary criticism methods could be valuable for systematically examining and interpreting these texts.

First, Križ and Reimer will discuss literary criticism methods before reflecting on how social scientists could apply them. Second, they will use their research about child protection-related court judgments by the European Court of Human Rights as an example. Lastly, Križ and Reimer invite seminar participants to reflect on how these methods might be useful in their own research when studying public-facing texts by street-level bureaucrats. You are invited to read this information about literary criticism if you want to learn more about it before the seminar (total reading time: 10 minutes): 

About the Speakers 

Katrin Križ is a Professor of Sociology at Emmanuel College (USA) and a research associate at the Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism (DIPA). 

Križ has extensive competence in Social Policy, Qualitative Social Research, Sociological Theory, Public Policy, Family Studies and Child Welfare. Her research is focused on the role of professional discretion in decisions related to a child’s best interests and child welfare systems in an international context. 

Together with colleagues Frøydis Lønborg Haarberg, Audun Gabriel Løvlie, and Marit Skivenes at the University of Bergen, Križ is working on the research project “Children’s Right to Participation”. 

Daniela Reimer is a Professor at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, School of Social Work, specializing in child and youth services, family dynamics, and foster care. Her research focuses on understanding the experiences of children in care, particularly in transitions and identity formation.

Reimer has conducted extensive studies on (foster) family cultures, the interplay of normality and identity among young people in foster care, and breakdowns within foster care systems. Currently, she leads a qualitative longitudinal study exploring the experiences of young adults who have transitioned from foster care. 

Tarja Pösö is a Professor Emerita at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Tampere University (Finland) and Professor II at the Department of Government (University of Bergen). 

Pösö has extensive experience in the studies of child protection, social work, and institutional practices, with a keen interest in cross-cultural perspectives and developing methods and ethics for child protection studies. 

Her particular research interests are how social workers navigate among different sources of information and interest when making decisions and assessing the outcome of their decisions in child protection, the child welfare systems perceive and act with migrant children, the principle of ‘the child’s best interest’ is included in the decision-making process. 

How to participate: At Jekteviksbakken 31 or via this Zoom link. 

If the Zoom application is new to you, we recommend that you press the link well before the events to download the program. You may leave and rejoin the meeting at any time. 

The RDV series is a collaboration between DIPA (UiB) and LawTransform (UiB). 


April 15
14:15 - 15:30
Event Categories:
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Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism
Centre on Law and Social Transformation
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