Constructing the Meaning of “Family” in the Context of Out-of-Home Care: An Exploratory Study on Residential Care Leavers in Harare, Zimbabwe

Getrude Dadirai GWENZI

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Care leavers’ family lives are not well-documented in Global South literature. The West has seen an increase in studies focusing on the family concept. This article focuses on the concept of “family” and family membership from the perspective of care leavers. Data from semistructured interviews and “family lists” with 30 care leavers (aged 18–25) from Zimbabwe are presented. The findings suggest that although there is evidence of heteronormative definitions of “family” and ideas of “family” as biological, new definitions are coming up in the developing world. Some participants acknowledge nonbiological definitions of family based on connectivity, co-residence, affective practices, family contact, and other forms of family display in the context of out-of-home care. The Zimbabwean cultural influence is highlighted as a factor in care leavers’ constructions of “family” especially during the emerging adulthood stage. Practical implications for social policy, those working with care leavers, and wider society are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-63
Number of pages10
JournalEmerging Adulthood
Volume8
Issue number1
Early online date19 Sep 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

The research on which this paper is based forms part of a doctoral study. The author acknowledges the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship for the research.

Keywords

  • care leavers
  • family meanings
  • out-of-home care
  • residential care
  • transition into adulthood
  • Zimbabwe

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