Recognition and residential childcare
: A small scale study of the applicability of Honneth’s conceptual framework

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctorate in Childhood Studies


The history of residential childcare is a chequered one, in which fundamental questions about the nature, purpose, quality and effectiveness of the service have been raised. Despite concerns, there is a commonly shared agreement that some residential childcare provision will always be necessary and that if it is good quality, it has the potential to help children achieve their potential and achieve positive long-term outcomes. This does then raise the question as to what is meant by ‘good quality’ or ‘quality care’. Through interviews with key stakeholders including young people in care, this research study sets out to explore their understandings and experiences of quality care. The findings reveal that among the many factors that could contribute to quality care (including high quality facilities and a well-qualified staff group) a central theme was the quality of relationships between staff and young people. Using Honneth’s conceptual framework regarding recognition and misrecognition, as an analytical tool, the thesis outlines how the residential child care could be enhanced by applying core concepts to the design and delivery of the service. It is argued that relationships would be enhanced and that the identity needs of young people in care would be recognised and upheld.
Date of AwardJul 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsRegulation & Quality Improvement Authority
SupervisorKaren Winter (Supervisor) & Davy Hayes (Supervisor)


  • Residential child care
  • identity formation
  • looked after children

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