Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism Bergen

Inspiration for theses

Inspiration for your master's or doctorate degree

This page is meant to inspire students at the master’s or ph.d. level. The page is predominantly intended for student’s who are affiliated or wish to be affiliated with the LDW research group, but students from other universities or departments are of course welcome to have a look at our suggestions.

Child welfare and children's rights

  • The father’s role in child welfare cases – analysis of court judgments and policy
  • The meaning of siblings in child welfare cases – analysis of the concept of “family” and the biological principle. Discourse analysis.
  • If asking foster parents to give advice to other foster parents – what would they say?
  • “Familierådsmodellen” as a decision-making model. Is this a good model for legitimate decision-making? What are the “blind-spots” of the model. Comparing municipalities that either use the “familierådmodell” or not.
  • What are social workers’ ambitions for the child’s future and development? Do their ambitions affect the services and measures they adopt, and does it affect their assessment of the need for a removal of the child?


  • Analyzing written court judgments to identify thresholds for action. At what point are help measures deemed inadequate, and action needed?
  • Thresholds for deciding on different measures – help or removal.
  • Difference between assessment models such as “the Kvello method” in Norway and other decision-making models. Do they have any effect, and do they improve decision-making?
  • How do “Barnesakkyndig kommisjon” assess expert witness reports and on what criteria do they base their assessments on?
  • How do child welfare workers predict outcomes in a child welfare case? Is it possible to improve their predictions?
  • How do child welfare workers in different countries assess similar cases? Analyzing vignette responses to the same case.


  • Involuntary treatment of youths – why is it acceptable to force medical treatment of teenagers, but not adults?
  • The threshold for involuntary medical treatments and placements in treatment facilities
  • Using force to treat unwanted behavior
  • Comparing involuntary medical treatment of substance abusers in different countries with similar drug policy


  • Comparing attitudes towards corporal punishment between migrant and non-migrant families
  • Study the use of mandatory parental courses for migrant families (obligatorisk foreldrekurs, case: Kristiansand kommune).
  • Mapping the view on children’s rights and upbringing in citizenship testing.
  • Why are some minority groups more represented in the child welfare system than others? Are there organizational or other factors that affect the child welfare services’ abilities to detect neglect?
  • Child welfare services’ treatment of migrant families. Stories from migrant families and minority groups indicate that they are met with prejudice and racism.
  • The use of interpreters in the child welfare system. Comparing agencies with and without training in the use of interpreters. The effects of using interpreters on the communication between the family and the caseworker.


  • What does it take to be a good ombudsperson? What functions should the ombudsperson for children safeguard, and what qualities should they have?
  • How do NGOs impact policy-making?
  • Compare “Forandringsfabrikken” with the Finnish equivalent – differences in size, outreach and influence.
  • Have “Forandringsfabrikken” and other similar NGOs changed children’s role in policy-making?
  • “Forandringsfabrikkens” influence on children’s participation rights in society
  • Studying consultation processes (høringsprosesser) – how does the ministry filtrate consultations (høringssvar) from different NGOs? Are positive and critical consultations treated differently?
  • The role of child psychologists in the policy-making process and on the debate between the principle of biology and the principle of development? (case in Norway: NOU 2012:5)
  • What are UNICEF’s ambitions? Is it feasible to establish common understanding of issues relating to children’s rights? Analyzing UNICEF’s process of establishing one common understanding.

Judiciary system

  • Balancing freedom of speech with the right to privacy – analyzing cases (such as the Schjenken-case) communicated to the European Court of Human rights (ECtHR) through discourse analysis. What arguments are used?
  • Children’s participation – analyzing court judgements in Norway and England (or Ireland).
  • Analyzing judicial thresholds for different outcomes. What kind of parental behavior does judges assess as decisive in their decision to remove a child from its home?
  • Appeal cases – do arguments and deliberation change when the case is appealed? How do different appellate courts map out the facts?
  • Comparing specialist and generalist court systems – what is the best organizational court structure in child welfare?
  • Is it possible to trace differences between judges in their written judgements? Do some judges let children participate more than others?
  • Are decisions made by the County Social Welfare Board (“Fylkesnemnda”) just? Are their decisions based on sufficient and satisfactory information? Have both parties been heard? Are they based on reasonable norms for teenage behavior?
  • How is the Convention on the Rights of the Child used and upheld in court judgements? Analysis of written judgements in Norway and England. Discourse analysis.

Public and social media

  • How are child welfare services portrayed in the media?
  • What arenas are used to discuss child welfare systems? Facebook, twitter, online forums, television, newspapers, radio, blogs etc.
  • What arguments are used in different arenas? How is the child welfare system portrayed in the public media compared to closed online forums?
  • How does the public media’s portrayal of the child welfare system affect the public opinion and trust towards the system?
  • Comparing “blame cultures” in different countries. Why do social workers receive punishment by courts and the general public in some countries, but not in other?
  • Analyzing the effects of a “blame culture” in the media. Does blaming social workers in the media affect how they work with children and families?

Organizational structures

  • Mapping the different accountability mechanisms in the child welfare system. What is the main purpose of accountability in child welfare? Is it used to facilitate good judgements or to detect severe errors?
  • Why did the Norwegian government create a new directorate? Has the directorate effected the established structure in the child welfare system?


  • Why is whistle blowing in cases of white collar crime and lack of resources perceived as more acceptable than whistle blowing in harassment cases and bullying in the workplace? Is it easier to whistle blow on objective behavior, compared to behavior that cannot be measured by objective criteria, such as bullying? Analyzing the difference between whistle blowing on white collar crime and bullying.
  • How do courts assess whether an action is “illegitimate” or not? What arguments are presented when an action is judged to be “illegitimate”? Analyzing written court judgements and judges’ conceptual understanding of illegitimacy.
  • Do organizational structures and routines affect whistle blowing? Does establishing internal routines for whistle blowing reduce the frequency of illegitimate actions and reduce whistle blowing outside of the organization?
  • How does organizational democracy affect the frequency of whistle blowing? Does it reduce the negative attitudes towards whistle blowing? Analyzing four big organizations (two from the private sector and two from the public sector), both with and without routines for whistle blowing.
  • Why is whistle blowing outside of the organization perceived as less acceptable? Is it the notion of loyalty?

Theoretical and methodological inspiration

Useful references and literature

Child welfare and Children’s rights




Judiciary systems




Methods that are useful when studying child welfare




Focus groups