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Emotional participation of young adults starting their independent living

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-30, 15:35 authored by Maritta Törrönen, Carol Munn-Giddings, Chrissie Gavriel, Demi Morris
How to ensure young adults are active partners in society is an issue across Europe. This issue has a particular relevance for young adults leaving the care system who may have been disadvantaged by their care experiences. Drawing on selected findings from the EU-funded study ‘Reciprocal Encounters – Young adults leaving care’ funded by European Union (2016–2018) we ask what supports and hinders meaningful participation in their communities? The study design was participatory action research involving young adults with leaving care experiences in question-setting, research design, ethical review, data generation, analysis or dissemination from both Finland and the UK. The data consists of 50 Finnish and 24 English peer interviews which were thematically analysed. The central message from the young adults was the importance they attributed to the meaning and continuity of social connections which support what we define as their ‘emotional participation’. To understand this concept and practice we draw on a theoretical discussion of reciprocity. A core similarity in both countries is that young adults long for stability in their relationships. Findings are presented along a spectrum describing experiences where young adults feel themselves emotionally connected to other persons and when there is more emotional distance. Different welfare practices shape these experiences, for example: the English services stressing child protection and the Finnish services stressing individualised-liberty practice. Both can strengthen or weaken emotional participation. We conclude by suggesting a move from individualistic practice towards community practice which has at its core the importance of supporting reciprocal relationships.



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Nordic Social Work Research




Taylor & Francis

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  • Accepted version


  • eng

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ARCHIVED Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education (until September 2018)


This work was supported by the EU under Marie Sklodowska-Curie Scholarship.

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