She was good for nothing

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Heidi Molsen Larsen
  • Charlotte Balling Ryssel
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
”She was good for nothing”... Don’t ever become a drunk like your mother, but you probably will! Social Heritage hits the washerwoman and her son hard in the little village community.
Social Heritage is a concept that had been known for decades. Gustav Jonsson launched the concept back in 1967, in connection with his doctoral thesis, where the theory of social heritage is laid out. No one, neither before or after has formulated such an explicit theory such as Gustav Jonsson. Social Heritage, in Gustav Jonssons formulation, doesn’t point toward a precise formulation other than parents transfer social problems to their children. This is neither theoretically or empirically. What is inherited, how much is inherited, how is it inherited and how many inherit, Jonsson doesn’t discuss.
The use of the concept Social Heritage incorporates the suggestion of stigmatisation. That the child is expected to suffer the same social problems as the parents, based on the problems of the parents exactly as in the fairy tale from H. C Andersen ”She was good for nothing”, where the child’s destiny is predetermined. The concept of Social Heritage is not referred to whether it be biological, psychological, sociological or genetically, where the concept isn’t referred to for any concrete or specific explanation. This complicates therefore a social work analysis and identification of intervention.
We both have great respect for Jonssons research and work within the concept of Social Heritage. One should therefore also expect that a theory about Social Heritage, that has its roots 50 years ago, cannot be the reason for our criticism. Since we are already criticising the concept, it should be seen in the context of social work experience and consideration, where we both experience social heritage used in practice.
One wonders, in our empirical impetus about what the concept of Social Heritage includes and land for the young women. All three have been removed from the home and placed in institutions, due to the parents lack of care and inability to be responsible parents. The three women are all from a middle class home, where externally everything seems to be fine, but where all three women carry certain traits with them into their adult life. Informants who are not in the social work field, but have heard the concept of Social Heritage through their work, upbringing or through their network. We have, through our search for informants, been interested in finding those who will maybe explain what social heritage meant for them at that time, and now today. And why it is that the three young women ”looking back” don’t like the concept of Social Heritage.
We are convinced that our criticism of the concept of Social Heritage can lead to opposition, because it is a broad concept. One of ”our” opposers is Professor Svend Aage Andersen from Århus School of Social Work. He doesn’t see the concept of Social Heritage in a determined thought process, but as a possible generative mechanism in construction of a social problem and furthermore he sees the concept as a central social work concept, even a diametral opposite to our view on the concept (Andersen S. A., Social arv - set i et kritisk realistisk perspektiv, 2018).
Our criticism of the concept should therefore be seen as a real problematization and gladly debate about the concept of Social Heritage. This thesis will therefore correspond a critical approach to the concept of Social Heritage.
Publication date2 Jun 2019
Number of pages90
ID: 304943227