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The Relational Gaze on a Changing Society

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Edited By Paolo Terenzi and Elisabetta Carrà

Relational sociology is coming increasingly to the fore on the international academic stage. As it invariably happens in such circumstances, when a new paradigm attracts a growing number of scholars, researchers and practitioners, it is almost inevitably interpreted and identified in many different ways. This book aims to highlight the specific nature of relational sociology, disseminates knowledge about the relational approach which has been developed in Italy and in Europe starting from the work of Pierpaolo Donati, and confronts this approach with issues which are currently much debated in social theory, social research and social work. The authors try to consolidate the directions taken in the research field in order to distinguish relational sociology from other approaches which are not relational, or are only so to a certain degree.

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Foster Care as a Relational Practice. A Quantitative Research on Case Files of the Juvenile Court of Milan

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In the child protection system, foster care aims at placing children in need with another family available to take care of them for a certain period, whenever their parents and relatives are not able to provide them with adequate care. Foster care are present all over the world, including Italy.

In the Italian context, foster care represents even today a challenge not only for social workers and Juvenile Courts but also for all the people directly involved such as the children, their birth families, and the foster families.

In Italy, the research on this subject is limited (Favretto and Bernardini 2010; Belotti et al. 2012; Raineri and Calcaterra 2017). The few studies conducted highlight the birth families’ perception of being excluded from the process of foster care placement, the foster families’ feeling of being considered mostly as recipients and not as partners by social workers, and ultimately the children’s feelings of not having been listened to and not having participated in the planning of their foster care placement.

The research presented in this chapter aims to compensate, at least in part, for the lack of studies on foster care in the Italian context. Its purpose is to examine the Italian foster care by analysing the case files of fostered children managed by the Juvenile Court of Milan.

In the first part of this chapter, a brief description of the Italian foster care system and a reflection on fostering as a...

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