Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism Bergen

Dr. Hege Beate Stein Helland

Dr. Hege Beate Stein Helland

Postdoctoral Fellow


Hege Stein Helland is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Research on Discretion and Paternalism on the project “Legitimacy challenges for children´s rights and the child protection system”.

Hege holds a PhD in political science, conducted as part of the project “The Acceptability of Child Protection Interventions: A Cross-Country Analysis“. She has previously worked as a researcher on “Adopsjon som barnevernstiltak” and as a research assistant on the project “Legitimacy and Fallibility in Child Welfare Services”.

Hege has contributed with research on children’s participation in child welfare proceedings and on population attitudes towards corporal punishment, questioning whether migrant children are viewed differently than native children in such cases.

Her topics of interests includes children’s rights, child welfare adoptions, population attitudes towards children’s welfare, legitimations of state intervention, and child welfare decision-making.

Hege has previously led the Western Norway branch of the Norwegian Sociological Association.

Hege is the editor responsible for blog posts at DIPA and Lawtransform – Child Rights Unit.


Book Chapters
  • Helland, H.S. & Skivenes, M. (2021) Adoptions from Care: Norway. In Pösö, T., Skivenes, M. & Thoburn, J. Adoptions from Care: International Perspectives on Children’s Rights, Family Preservation and State Intervention.
  • Helland, H.S. & Nygård, S. (2021) Understanding attachment in decisions on adoption from care in Norway. In Pösö, T., Skivenes, M. & Thoburn, J. Adoptions from Care: International Perspectives on Children’s Rights, Family Preservation and State Intervention.

More information in national current research information system (CRIStin)

Under preparation:

  • Helland, H. S. & Skivenes, M. (In progress) Children’s involvement in adoption decision-making, in Research Handbook on Adoption. Lowe, N. & Fenton-Glynn, C. (eds). Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
  • Helland, H. S., Pedersen, S. H., & Skivenes, M. (In progress) Public Opinion on Children’s Rights and the Need for State Intervention in a Child Protection Context – A Cross Country Study of Denmark, England and Norway.

PhD in Political Science (2021) from the University of Bergen with the thesis “Discretion and the Demand for Reasons : Justifications for the Child’s Best Interests in Decisions on Adoption from Care in England and Norway”

Master’s Degree in Sociology (2015) from University of Bergen with thesis “Den sosialt og geografisk strukturerte mobiliteten: Ei kvantitativ analyse av samanhengen mellom geografisk opphav, geografisk mobilitet og utdannings- og klassemobilitet i Vestlandsregionen for fødselskohortane 1955 og 1960” [The socially and geographically structured mobility: A quantitative analysis of the relationship between geographic origin, geographic mobility and education- and class mobility in the [Norwegian] Western region for birth cohorts 1955 and 1960].

Bachelor degree from University of Bergen and Universität Mannheim.



  • PhD student at the research project “Acceptability in Child Welfare Interventions” with a project studying the normative platform for best interest assessments and the boundaries for legitimate welfare state intervention in England and Norway .
  • Research Assistant at the research project “Legitimacy and Fallibility in Child Welfare Services: A Cross-Country Study of Decision-Making” on child welfare services in Norway, Finland, England and USA. The project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council and runs from September 2012 to June 2017.
  • Researcher at the research project “Adoption as a Child Welfare Measure“. The project aims to examine how laws on adoption are being implemented and practiced in the front line and in the courts. The project aims to create a knowledge base that can contribute to the proper use of adoption as child welfare measure, and also shed light on best practices and identify factors that can help decision-makers to consider measures for children in long-term placements. The project is funded by The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs and runs from November 2016 to December 2018.

Get to know Hege

What are you working on at the moment?

Several things! I have just attended a week long PhD course in the philosophy of science, so now I am mainly focusing on getting my essay for this started, but I am also working on finishing up an article on attitudes towards corporal punishment in five countries.

 What is the best thing about your job?

So many things! I am lucky enough to be doing something that involves a range of different tasks and challenges, no two days are alike, and the possibilities are in many ways endless.

The best thing overall is being able to immerse myself into my research topics, enhancing my knowledge and gaining new insights. More specifically, meeting so many highly knowledgeable people, engaging in challenging and interesting discussions on different topics, interacting with the actors in the fields that we are studying, getting your results up and running, analyzing and presenting them, are just some examples of what I like about this job!

… and the worst?

Administrative and technical problem solving…

If you had to choose a different field, what would it be?

I would most likely find myself researching within the sociological field of social inequality and class, probably not moving to far away from my current field, researching issues relating to social welfare, social rights, marginalization and vulnerable groups.

Is there a specific book within your field you’d recommend?

Within child welfare research, “Child Welfare Removals by the State: A Cross Country Analysis of Decision-Making Systems” from 2016 (edited by Burns, Pösö and Skivenes) provides an excellent overview of the child welfare systems in eight modern democratic states.

The books emphasis is on the socio-legal decision-making systems and the removals of children from their home, and provides both a descriptive overview of the country specific contexts, while at the same time exploring the social and legal context underpinning the systems. I have had a lot of use of this book since it came out, and I believe it could also be useful for others interested in the field.

You are head of the university for one day – what would you do?

Rule with an iron hand! No, I would probably go out of office, interact with students and employees around campus, and have a chat about their day-to-day business. I would also put a brake on the development towards the policy of shared office spaces.

Novel you’ve read that you’d like to read again, and why?

“Mig äger ingen” by Åsa Linderborg is a book very much worthwhile reading twice or more. It presents a portrayal of a girl’s upbringing with her single dad, a blue-collar worker at the local metal plant, and tells a story of class affiliation and mobility in 1970’s Sweden, while addressing issues such as alcoholism, love, shame and alienation. The book is both well written, beautiful, and heartbreaking.

Best place to go out in Bergen?

After I moved to Sandviken I have discovered that Dr. Wiesener is a great place to go out, a socially including spot with a good vibe! The building, which today has transformed into a neighborhood pub (with a large terrace for sunny days!) was originally used as a public bath for the low income population of Bergen, making it unique venue to visit for dinner and/or drinks.

Other than this, Naboen or Ferdinand på Engen are also excellent places to go out both for dinner and drinks, and further, Victoria for watching football.

And most importantly, a TV show you are binging?

True Detective – one of my absolute favorites of all time. After waiting for three years since the last season aired it is finally back! This far it has more of the vibe from season one, and is full of subtext and dark mystery.

Updated Winter 2019-2020