• Anne Kathrine Storm
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
This master’s thesis examines the role of Danish civil society organisations and their increasing
social work on and against child poverty, also including the NGO’s interplay with the public
authorities and the Danish welfare state in general. Based on interviews with Danish NGOs
working with disadvantaged families, the thesis investigates how Danish civil society is
experiencing an increased demand for social programs, especially financial help for families.
Statistics on child poverty in Denmark are reflecting these experiences from within
Danish civil society, describing a rise in child poverty during the past years. A Danish think tank,
the Economic Council of the Labour Movement, claims that this rise in child poverty is to be
considered a consequence of reductions in social benefits and other changes within the criteria for
the recipients in the Danish unemployment system conducted in 2015. These changes meant that
citizens receiving the Danish cash benefit (kontanthjælp) or the integration benefit
(integrationsydelse) had to meet new and more criteria if their benefit was not to be reduced. A
lot of citizens experienced cuts in their benefits, also including several citizens with a migrant
background. These cuts affected many families and therefore also affected many children and
their opportunities in life.
The NGOs experience children bringing empty lunch boxes to school, children not
having the opportunity of going to their classmates’ birthday parties, and parents unable to afford
Christmas presents to their children. It is this stigmatization and social exclusion caused by the
families’ financial disadvantages that the civil society is trying both to combat and to mitigate.
The study shows that Danish civil society is stepping in where the Danish public
welfare system is failing, or more directly put, where the Danish welfare state in fact is creating
child poverty and negative long-term effects through its lowering of benefits. This represents a
paradox because one could think it was a core task for a welfare state to fight child poverty.
The thesis includes a theoretically focused analysis of the universal welfare state to
see if it is under pressure due to the benefit reductions and new criteria already mentioned, or if
there is a new approach from the Danish welfare state towards its own citizens also affecting the
field of social work. Also, the thesis examines the power relations between the public social
worker, the citizen, and the social worker from the NGO to analyse the advantages of social work
in a non-governmental context and how it could benefit children living in poverty.
Publication date29 Jun 2021
Number of pages68
ID: 414719469