Paper short abstract:
In the context of fieldwork in day-care institutions in Denmark this paper presents an anthropological discussion on 'welfare institutions' and cultural notions of well-being.
Paper long abstract:
The discipline of anthropology concerns patterns of interaction, exchange and relationships between people in different kinds of communities. Whatever type of society, state organisation and composition of a population, anthropologists have been interested in social encounters and organisation. When it comes to studies of 'welfare states' anthropologists have continued the disciplinary interest in peoples interactional performances and organisation, but the more overall discussions of what constitute and characterize such societies have to some extent been left over to sociology and political sciences as matters concerning economy, distribution of resources and policy. Anthropology has, however, much to offer in analysis of welfare-states as institutional arrangements, social obligations, reciprocity and ways of spending and distributing resources are classical anthropological themes. From this perspective anthropologists can qualify understandings by contributing with analysis of social coherence, organisation and norms of welfare and well-being. Welfare is more than a political slogan and a notion of economical dispositions; - it is cultural notion of being and behaving well within specific structures of organisation.
With outset in fieldworks in day-care institutions in Denmark I will reflect on how 'welfare institutions' contribute to understandings of welfare. More specifically I will discuss welfare institutions as sites of enculturation; as places where children are brought up with specific ideas of sociality. Ways of speaking, manners of behaviour and ways of interacting are prioritized as key concerns in Danish care-institutions as children have to learn how to behave in order to be acceptable social citizens. As will be shown welfare relates to modes of behaviour that are taught in specific "welfare institutions". Thus, investigating norms and 'enculturating' practices of day-care institutions can fertilize our discussions of welfare as more than a matter of economy.
Understanding welfare and well-being in a globalised world